OPINION: Success of Chamber job fair shows buoyancy of jobs market in Offaly

THE great success of the first ever Offaly Job Fair is further proof of the buoyancy of the jobs mark in the county and the wider Midlands.

The event, organized by Tullamore and District Chamber of Commerce, took place in the Tullamore Court Hotel on Saturday last and attracted hundreds of job seekers from across Offaly and neighboring counties.

Companies were delighted with the huge numbers of enthusiastic jobseekers who attended the event with the fair being thronged from its official opening on Saturday morning.

Such was its success that the Chamber is now planning to run similar events on an annual basis.

Spokespersons for FRS Recruitment and Nua Healthcare told organizers that the fair was by far the most successful they had ever attended.

It was a great idea to hold the fair on a Saturday as it was more convenient for job seekers who are already in employment, said the FRS representative.

A spokesman for Nua Healthcare said he attended a job fair in Dublin last week and the Tullamore event far surpassed it.

Lidl Ireland held interviews with job seekers and by lunchtime had already conducted 25 and hired four people.

“We’re hungry for staff and it seems people here are hungry for jobs,” said Lidl employment brand specialist Denise Baltatu.

Firms from sectors such as construction, retail, finance, hospitality, pharmaceutical, manufacturing and engineering all took part in the job fair.

Officially opening the fair, Cllr Neil Feighery, Cathaoirleach of Tullamore Municipal District, said “Offaly is known for its wide, open landscapes with the theme of the council,‘ Space to Grow, Space to Work and Space to Live ’. With so many job opportunities available here today, we encourage people to return to Offaly where there is ‘Space to Grow’ and avoid the grind of the daily commute to Dublin and the major urban centers.

The job fair was aimed at a wide range of job -seekers – from the school leaver hoping to find an apprenticeship or further their education, to the commuter looking to work closer to home and enjoy a better work/life balance, to those looking to further their careers and to those financially stretched wanting to live outside the major cities where the cost of living is more affordable.

The Chamber has worked to support its members through some very difficult times in the recent past.

Explained Chamber President Anthony Hanniffy in a foreword in the special booklet given out free to those attending the fair: “As we come out of the Covid landscape we consulted with local businesses on the type of supports that would benefit the local business community the most. We expected recent events to have negatively impacted businesses but were pleasantly surprised at the strength and resilience of our community, with most businesses looking to push forward and grow despite these challenging times. One issue that raised its head again and again during our conversations was the difficulty in getting staff, and it is from these seeds that the Official Job Fair have grown. ”

Mr Hanniffy said he was confident about the future of Tullamore and Offaly.

“We have a strong generation coming through into adulthood, our businesses are remaining strong and growing, our community spirit is high and these all make the county a wonderful place to live and work,” he pointed out.

The job fair was an ideal example of the voluntary sector working in tandem with the statutory authorities for the benefit of jobseekers and companies who have vacancies.

As such tribute must be paid to the sponsors who made the fair possible – Offaly Local Development, Offaly Local Enterprise Office, LOETB, Offaly County Council and the Technical University of the Shannon.

As well as attracting native Irish job seekers the fair was also attended by a huge number of “new” Irish and many Ukrainian refugees who have fled to this country following the Russian invasion.

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