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Are most new high-paying jobs in Ireland going to foreign workers? 

On Tuesday, the giant consultancy firm Ernst & Young announced that they are in the process of recruiting 900 new employees for its operations in Ireland. Some 550 of the new positions for experienced staff will be filled shortly. The company further announced that this will expand the total workforce here to 5,100. 

The consultancy giant also announced record profits here to the end of June of €536 million.

While all of that is no doubt to be welcomed, in common with all of the other large technologically based international corporations based in Ireland, a large proportion of the Ernst Young workforce here is composed of people from overseas.

Many of the jobs are filled by people from other EU countries, but a large proportion also come from countries outside of the EU and EEA and are employed here under work permits issued by the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. 

Most of the new jobs therefore will not only be filled by non-Irish nationals, but by people issued with work permits.

In the past ten years, Ernst Young has been issued with 1,633 such work permits. In this year alone up to the end of October, the company has been issued with 625 such permits

Gript contacted Ernst Young who informed us that they currently employ 4,208 people on the island of Ireland and that there are currently 76 different nationalities represented in the company. 

While this may reflect a number of factors, and some will claim that there are not sufficiently qualified people in Ireland to fill the positions, it throws a rather different light on the claim that 900 new jobs have been created in Ireland with the implication that they are being filled by Irish people.

 It also, of course, adds considerably to the demands on housing and other provisions. 

The same breakdown can be seen across the employment sector generally as is reflected by the fact that 34,141 new work permits had been issued to the end of October.

 That is already twice the 16,275 issued for the whole of 2021, and compares to 11,305 in 2018. 

To put some perspective on all of that, in 2021 the Industrial Development Authority stated that 30,000 new jobs had been created in the state. It would be accurate to point out that, including those EU citizens from other member states who do not require a work permit, the majority of those new jobs went to people of other than Irish nationality.

This is clearly the pattern that is shaping the Irish economy. At present there are over 275,000 people employed here by overseas companies and that proportion is set to increase.  Indeed, it might be argued that it has created a dangerous dependence upon foreign direct investment particularly in the technological sector and should that be impacted by global developments the consequences across Irish society would be severe.

Political and business leaders have of course made no secret of the fact that the population and employment projections that are contained in the National Development Plan, as set out in Project 2040, are massively dependent on inward migration. No one even bats an eyelid at the estimate that the population will increase by one million, the majority of whom will be immigrants over the next 25 or 30 years. 

The question for Irish society in general is whether that is the unmitigated good that it is taken for granted that it is. There has been little or no debate over the consequences for the future make up of Ireland, of the impact this will have on our communities and culture, let alone how an already inadequate system of public provision is going to cope with even greater demands over the next twenty years and more.

The reason for that lack of debate is that there is not one party in Leinster House that questions the assumptions upon which all of this is based.

And no one, apart from ourselves here in the Gript corner and some astute social media researchers and commentators, attempts to place such questions in the public arena.

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