Wednesday 16 October 2019

Thousands flock to jobs fair


IF YOU WERE in any doubt about how bad the unemployment situation is, you only had to attend the Wexford Employment and Advice Fair in the Opera House.

Thousands of people from all over the county and further afield turned up on Friday and Saturday to the event in Wexford Opera House, organised by Wexford Chamber in association with the International Employment Services Unit of the Department of Social Protection.

They queued from 2 p.m. even though the doors didn't open until 3 p.m. Many were enticed by a radio report announcing that 400 jobs were on offer at the fair.

One of the companies offering jobs was the German supermarket chain Aldi, which had the most sought-after stand. For a total of 10 hours on Friday and Saturday there was a constant queue of people waiting to talk to an Aldi personnel representative.

She estimated that she spoke to 40 people an hour, about half of whom left their CVS.

White's Hotel also had jobs, although some of them were internships. Less than two hours into the event, human resources rep Janice Frost and her assistant already had 50 CVS handed in.

'People are desperate, they're trying for everything,' said Janice. 'We've had enquiries from Carlow, New Ross, Enniscorthy, and people are willing to travel even for a part-time job.'

There were product sales jobs on offer at other stands and positions abroad in Sweden, Czech Republic, Romania and Lithuania.

Sweden is looking for English teachers, construction managers and 'self-motivated technical artists'.

Activity leaders for language summer camps are being sought in Lithuania.

A total of 23 positions were advertised for Romania, including project manager, translators and kitchen workers. However, at the Romania stand, a representative said: 'We don't have vacancies, we are providing information. We are also talking to people who may wish to come back to Romania from Ireland,' she said.

Lithuanian national Kristina Ripinskyte, who already has a job in White's Hotel, said she did not think there are that many job opportunities in her home country, compared to Ireland.

'I came to Ireland with my family when I was 17, so I have never worked there.'

Johnny Wall of New Ross was one of the many searching for a job. ' I was working all my life in the building trade. I've been unemployed since Christmas. It's impossible at my age,' said Johnny who is in his fifties.

'I've done a Fás course in stewarding. I've done a course in computers. I'm not giving up.

'I'm determined to do something,' said the father of two grown-up children, who worked with Airtricity and Zurich. 'I'll tell you one thing, it's some downer being unemployed. The only thing keeping me going is that my wife is working.

'It's the worst I've seen. Something has to be done,' he said.

Karl O'tool (27) from Enniscorthy is interested in setting up a small graphic design business. He thought the Employment Fair was a good idea.

' It inspires you... you realise there is stuff out there,' said Karl, who has not ruled out emigrating.

His friend Anthony O'sullivan (30) is a qualified carpenter who is also trained in the handling of hazardous materials. He worked in England for several years before returning to Enniscorthy five years ago. 'I got six months work when I got back. Then it started getting worse and worse.

'I have young children and that is the reason I've stayed in Ireland but I think I'm going to have to leave. There's nothing in this country at the moment.'

'I grew up in the 1980s and I'm not going back to that. It's very depressing being unemployed.'

One man who did not wish to be named was queueing at the Aldi stand. He has a job but is keeping his options open.

'It's an employer's market out there. Three or four years ago it was an employee's market. I was asked to do a milk run. I got up at three in the morning and worked till six and I got €30.

'If you look at the Fás website, they're looking for farm labourers for €50 a day.'

Some young people in attendance were looking for summer jobs to help pay their way through college. Rachel Conroy (21) from Enniscorthy has almost finished a Business degree in WIT.

'I would consider going abroad but I would prefer to work in Ireland,' she said. 'About 30 of my friends have gone to Australia.'

John Byrne (45), also from Enniscorthy, was made redundant from a manufacturing sales job in February after seven years. He has a degree in business and a postgraduate qualification in international sales. He attended a motivational talk by Karl Fitzpatrick. 'It was excellent. I definitely got something out of it,' he said.

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