Call for Ir­ish busi­nesses to tap into mi­grant skills

The Irish Times - Business - - BUSINESS NEWS - LAURA SLAT­TERY

The State will lose out if busi­nesses do not tap into the skills and ex­pe­ri­ence that mi­grants can bring to the work­place, Vir­gin Me­dia Ire­land chief ex­ec­u­tive Tony Han­way has said.

“We have full em­ploy­ment in the coun­try now, and let’s face it, there re­ally is an amaz­ing short­age of tal­ent,” Mr Han­way said. “If we can’t fill the jobs in Ire­land, then that eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity is go­ing to go some­where else.”

Mr Han­way was speak­ing at an event hosted by Bank of Ire­land to mark a decade of a Busi­ness in the Com­mu­nity Ire­land (BITC) pro­gramme to help marginalised im­mi­grants find paid work.

The Em­ploy­ment for Peo­ple from Im­mi­grant Com­mu­ni­ties (EPIC) scheme has sup­ported 3,235 peo­ple from 105 coun­tries over the past 10 years, with two-thirds go­ing on into em­ploy­ment, train­ing or fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion.

“Hav­ing some­one to guide you, it was pow­er­ful,” said Winifred Akinyemi, from Nige­ria, one of the orig­i­nal par­tic­i­pants a decade ago, who found hous­ing and child­care as well as paid em­ploy­ment as a re­sult of the scheme. “It was a light in the midst of dark­ness.”

She has since com­pleted pri­mary and post-pri­mary de­grees in in­ter­na­tional devel­op­ment and now works in the aid sec­tor.

Con­fi­dence and self-be­lief

The six-week pro­gramme cov­ers pre-em­ploy­ment and em­ploy­a­bil­ity skills, but also fo­cuses on build­ing up par­tic­i­pants’ con­fi­dence and self-be­lief.

“Our job now is to make sure these pro­grammes are as widely known as pos­si­ble,” said Mr Han­way, a board mem­ber of BITC.

“The whole idea is to have an in­te­grated ap­proach and not leave the whole thing to chance. No one wants to see the peo­ple who come here get stuck in the sys­tem.”

The six-week pro­gramme, funded mainly by the Depart­ment of Jus­tice and Equal­ity and the Eu­ro­pean So­cial Fund, has the back­ing of re­cruit­ment com­pany CPL, which has fa­cil­i­tated 1,350 mock in­ter­views, and tele­coms group BT, which has given IT train­ing to 1,530 peo­ple. KMPG, Ac­cen­ture, En­ter­prise Rent-a-Car and Bank of Ire­land are also key sup­port­ers, as are or­gan­i­sa­tions such as the Im­mi­grant Coun­cil of Ire­land and Cairde.

Some 43 per cent of all par­tic­i­pants

Car­los Ruiz Man­rique from Venezuela, a grad­u­ate of the Em­ploy­ment for Peo­ple from Im­mi­grant Com­mu­ni­ties (EPIC) scheme.

have gone on into em­ploy­ment, with 24 per cent pro­ceed­ing to train­ing, in­tern­ships or vol­un­teer roles.

The event was also at­tended by Min­is­ter of State David Stan­ton, who has re­spon­si­bil­ity for equal­ity, im­mi­gra­tion and in­te­gra­tion, who said it was “en­cour­ag­ing” to see busi­nesses get­ting in­volved.

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