This is a really desperate time. With no regular income, and with both spouses out of work, some families will face losing their homes. This is starting to look like a downturn that squeezes people out of the middle class before the Irish economy recovers. I have a really uneasy feeling about the Dell Redundant cohort. I don't think there are jobs in the pipeline that can offer meaningful employment to mid-career factory workers. And without a proper job, people have to downshift. You can downshift only so far, then you start slipping out of the middle class.
Within a few weeks, the Department of the Taoiseach will announce plans for the smart economy. Saying that you're ramping up for the smart economy is a quiet admission that jobs will be scarce for those lacking a Leaving Certificate.
I sit in a place where I help develop the smart economy. I think we need to figure out ways of connecting smart training to thousands of those around me because if new employers consider opening up operations in the footprints left by Dell, they won't be setting up big factories and employing thousands.
Previously: "Dell Shuts Down Limerick" on InsideView, 8 Jan 09.