Offshore energy businesses could hire and retrain engineers who lost their jobs in recent big tech lay-offs to ease a labour squeeze in their industry.
Specialist consultancy Gavin & Doherty Geosolutions (GDG) plans to create 500 jobs in the Republic to cash in on growing momentum behind renewables development. However, Yvonne Ainsworth, managing director of onshore activities, warned on Wednesday that a scarcity of talent was forcing GDG to consider options including hiring and “upskilling” engineers let go as big tech companies shed hundreds of jobs here.
“While most of them may not possess the exact skill set we require we believe there is a pool of talent among them that may be valuable to our cause,” she said.
Ms Ainsworth pointed out that the housing crisis left companies such as hers with a “daunting task” when engineers they bring in from abroad cannot find affordable accommodation of a decent standard in Dublin.
GDG would prefer to hire domestically, according to Ms Ainsworth, but Irish training programmes, third-level courses and apprenticeships for the offshore industry are not yet developed enough here.
Simon Coveney, Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, said universities and third-level institutions were “more than aware” of the need to produce the skilled workers the offshore energy industry needed. “We will do the same for this industry as we have done for others like pharma, biotech and medtech,” he said.
Mr Coveney attended GDG’s jobs announcement at Engineers Ireland’s offices in Dublin. “We have an extra 100,000 people employed in Ireland over the last 12 months,” he pointed out, adding that unemployment was at an all-time low.
GDG will hire 500 professionals across all grades over the next five years for an Irish engineering hub to serve demand for its services from offshore developers here and abroad.
Founded by industry veteran Paul Doherty in 2011, GDG is based in Dublin with offices in Cork and Belfast from where it services offshore projects around the world. UK-based Venterra Group bought the business two years ago.
Venterra’s revenues are £100 million (€116m) and it employs more than 600 people. According to Mr Doherty, the group has several divisions, including engineering, consultancy and construction, dedicated to offshore energy development.
GDG now employs 200 people. Mr Doherty explained that it expansion would match worldwide growth in offshore wind development. He pointed out that developers had built 30 gigawatts of offshore wind power, enough to supply 30 million homes, around the world over the last decade.
Mr Doherty predicted that the industry would add 300GW more over the next seven to eight years, creating huge demand for services offered by companies like GDG. “Our ambitions extend beyond Europe to the US and Asian markets as we strive to become the global leader in the offshore industry.”
Mr Coveney, said that the recruitment drive “supports the Government’s plans in aiming to have Ireland carbon neutral by 2050″.
State agency IDA Ireland is backing GDG’s plans. Michael Lohan, its chief executive, predicted that the expansion would “add important capability to Ireland’s offshore wind supply chain”.