Belfast Telegraph

No fears of cross-border brain drain as PayPal heads south

By Clare Weir

IT and recruitment experts in Northern Ireland have said they see no threat from the opening of a mammoth new operations centre by an online payments company just over the border.

PayPal said this week it is to take on 1,000 staff at a new European hub in Dundalk, Co Louth over the next four years. It already employs 1500 in Blanchardstown in west Dublin.

The Dundalk centre will open in July 2012 and will be parent company eBay's third site in Ireland.

The centres in Dublin and Dundalk will be responsible for customer service, risk prevention, financial operations, merchant services and sales across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

PayPal will hire staff across a range of activities including customer support, operations, finance, sales and compliance.

The company , founded in 1998, has 123m customers in 103 markets worldwide.

PayPal's operations in Ireland will deal with customers using 14 languages.

Recruitment for the new positions in Dundalk will begin in July and about 300 workers are expected to have been hired by the end of the year.

But fears that the complex will create a 'brain drain' of talented workers from Northern Ireland have been rebuffed.

Donna Parker, manager at Diamond Recruitment said that the IT jobs market in Northern Ireland is "extremely buoyant".

"While we do have shortages in some areas, this is because of the amount of highly-skilled graduates coming from our universities, starting with a firm like Citigroup and then being seconded or promoted elsewhere," she said.

"This announcement could have great benefits for the border area and places like Newry in terms of personal spend.

"One thing to say is that corporation tax is an issue.

"If the rates were similar, it would prevent a lot of big companies relocating across from the UK to the Republic of Ireland.

"However, despite what side of the border these jobs are located, it will still be a boost to the overall economy."

Michael Noble, skills director at Momentum, a trade association for the IT industry in Northern Ireland said that the more skilled software developers there are, the more jobs there will be.

"IT is something Northern Ireland has traditionally been very strong on in terms of training and job creation," he said. "It is a sector which continues to do well in the teeth of a recession.

"The more people there are, the more opportunities there will be, depending on the skills level.

"I see these jobs being created in Dundalk as an advantage.

"It may be that people from Northern Ireland could get the jobs and commute, it is a win-win situation as far as we would be concerned."

Northern Ireland's Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry recently launched the ICT Skills Taskforce to discuss current and future skills issues facing the ICT sector in Northern Ireland.

The forum brings together business leaders, employer representatives, government officials and representatives from local colleges and universities to consider how current and future ICT skills needs can be addressed.

Factfile

Ebay, which owns PayPal, began operating in Ireland in 2003. Founded in December 1998, PayPal is the leading global online payment company. The firm describes its service as being like "a digital wallet" where customers can securely store bank account and credit card card details.

To make an online payment, customers click on a PayPal checkout button, log in to their PayPal account, select the preferred payment method and PayPal completes the purchase without sharing the information with third parties. PayPal has more than 106m active registered accounts and is available in 190 markets.

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