Ireland’s job market booms, but housing shortages create hurdles


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Stephen O’Dwyer, the founder of Dublin’s Tang cafe/restaurant chain, says Ireland’s economy is growing fast. But this growth has created problems, especially in housing. Major cities like Dublin, Cork, and Limerick are facing a shortage of homes and rising homelessness, which is slowing down further economic progress.

Ireland’s urgent housing shortages

Companies are finding it easier to hire staff than to find housing for them. Housing is the main worry for many. The upcoming European elections on June 7 have made people talk more about balancing economic growth with enough homes.

After years of not investing enough in public infrastructure, Ireland is building again, but it’s too slow to meet the demand because there haven’t been enough construction workers since the 2008 financial crash.

The government is under pressure to speed up housing projects. Big projects like data centers, rail links, and hospitals are slow to finish due to a shortage of skilled workers and delays in planning. The €2.2bn children’s hospital in Dublin is a good example, opening later than expected and costing more than planned.

O’Dwyer points out how the housing crisis affects people personally, mentioning that some employees left because they couldn’t find housing. This issue is even worse for asylum seekers and migrants, who are vital to their business but have the hardest time finding a place to live in a crowded market.

Immigration is a big issue in Ireland, especially in cities like Cork where many people are from other countries. But in Dublin, refugee camps are putting pressure on public patience and raising calls for action to deal with the housing crisis.

The challenges in Ireland’s economy are similar to those in the UK. There are delays in improving infrastructure and not enough funding for education. However, Ireland has a budget surplus and low public debt, which means it could invest more in infrastructure and housing.

Ireland’s GDP per person is the second highest in Europe. Companies like Apple and Google help drive this by taking advantage of low taxes. However, there are worries that changes in tax rules could make it harder for Ireland to attract these companies.

The Irish government, led by Paschal Donohoe, is trying to solve the housing shortage by building 50,000 homes each year. However, house prices are still going up, and relying on the private market has been criticized for not providing affordable homes.

The housing crisis is partly caused by investments from tech and pharmaceutical companies. Big companies like Intel and Pfizer are growing in Ireland. This helps the economy but makes housing and public services more expensive and hard to find.

Ireland bounced back from the 2008 financial crisis, changing how the government spends money. The current leaders are investing heavily in infrastructure, focusing on housing, transport, health, and education, and moving towards net-zero emissions.

The government is planning new train links and a metro system in Dublin, but these will take years to be ready. Meanwhile, the bus and tram network is getting an upgrade.

Wayne Stanley from Simon Communities of Ireland and Pearse Doherty from Sinn Féin criticize the government for relying too much on the private market and wanting more public housing. Business leaders like Gerard Brady from Ibec also say the private sector can’t solve the housing crisis alone and call for more state help.

The tech and pharma boom has also pulled talent and funding away from local businesses, making the housing and public service issues worse. Big multinational companies lead in innovation, giving local firms little chance to grow and innovate.

Despite these problems, there are successes. Meditec Medical, a local company, competes with cheaper foreign products by offering better quality. The government supports these companies, but keeping skilled staff is still a big challenge.

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