Are nerd visas the answer to jobs crisis?

Ireland's recent economic woes can be sharply illustrated by - you guessed it - graphs. The first is the increase in long-term unemployment over the last few years in selected EU countries. Ireland's rate of long-term unemployment is a cause for concern. Long-term unemployment, where a person of working age is unemployed for more than 12 months, is associated with a host of personal and societal costs as this paper by Bell and Blanchflower (pdf) shows.

The second issue is the sectoral nature of those becoming unemployed, and particularly long-term unemployed. Not all sectors in the Irish economy experienced the same downturn. Some were barely affected at all. Some sectors are in long-run decline – such as candle-making – and others are just beginning to really thrive (such as online gaming). Yet others are a large part of Ireland's boom-bust cycle, for example construction and related services.

When the upturn comes in business cycles, it tends to come from private enterprises starting to look at prospects in their various sectors, hiring people to create products and services (or to service existing demand) and trying to make a profit.

Read more here.

5 Replies to “Are nerd visas the answer to jobs crisis?”

  1. Stephen,

    I remember in 2009/10, no less than three former employers of mine, went clean out of business. I mean clean out of business. Murray O'Laoire architects, Zoe developments and Dell computers in Limerick. Not only that, but I had known quite a few people who had worked for those companies, and went on to work at additional employers again, who went out of business since. It appears as though, many of the companies I am familiar with had quite brittle models to work with. I think it was the boom, which was the problem. As the boom continued in Ireland, many businesses which may have been better off closing shop, kept hanging on. Some of them, were even bought up by 'invaders' from the UK, who wanted to buy out native Irish companies and form them into new super-conglomorates. There was a lot of conglomoration happening during the boom in Ireland, and each time, many workers found themselves being promoted to directorships in larger entities, made up of smaller parts in which they had started. The transition from 20-40 employee companies, to conglomorate companies composing 200-400 employees, was often poorly managed. Often, the employees of the original units, where all the value was, departed from the scene. You had the opposite of Eircom. Instead of a large company being bought on the open market, and shell out - you can conglomorates of small Irish companies being made up by the foreign invaders - and expanded to enormous size, but at the same time, losing the talent contained within the original units. I think of an analogy such as concentrated orange juice. During the credit bubble in Ireland, our companies and our economy became a victim of its own success. The original, small, tightly knit units became the concentrate admixture to much larger volumes of watered down product, which was sold in bottles at inflated prices to the market. The value became too watered down. The scales were all wrong. In the end there was really no product to sell. This happened in the case of all three companies I mentioned at the start, in my opinion. Also, in my opinion, the really valuable human resources from all of the above, have been left now without a life raft to jump on to, and hence they are at a lose end. They were the kinds of people that were very valuable to companies, but were not people who were about to make their own company. This could all have been managed better. But the problem was the boom. The boom resulted in a temporary situation, whereby companies expanded at a rapid rate to meet with demand, and good workers got promoted to directorships - and then the bottom fell out of everything. Their raft got punctured, and they all found themselves in the water all of a sudden. It was a really shocking sequence of events. But I am sure that leaders in industry, should have seen the risk, and there should have been new, smaller vessels created during the boom, with radically different markets than the domestic one, so than many of the best workers could have been transferred when the time was right. Instead many of the leaders in industry, simply got out of the game, and there was nothing in the harbour left that would float at all. In fact, the analogy of a Pearl Harbour type of scene would be very appropriate.

  2. To me, Ireland is in much the same condition, or worse, than the American navy was after the faithful day in Pearl Harbour. It is not that sailors are standing idle on the dockside, but their vessel is sunk in the harbour. I wonder sometimes, did the Americans stand around talking about haircuts or bondholders, or even debt to GDP ratios, after the Japanese forces had retreated from the air?

    Economic policy may indeed be hard. But there are times in history, when it might be pretty simple. I wrote a few brief words on the subject of employment policy this evening, in response to a Stephen Kinsella blog entry on the subject. But it occurs to me, that in Ireland, there are too many vested interests who have a monopoly in this country about anything that has to do with employment policy. Unless those interests are broken, we cannot rebuild a new battle fleet capable of taking to the seas in the 2010s and 2020s.

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