Two Galway businessmen, Tom O' Connor and John Herterich are the third generation in their family to take over a thriving local enterprise, and each business has over seventy years of success behind it. Unlike many of their acquaintances, neither of them ever had to leave Galway to find employment.
Like every Irish person though, they had lost friends and family to emigration, and witnessed the suffering of those who stayed behind, but were unable to find work. "We were aware that we we were in a very privileged position in comparison to most of the people we knew, and decided to pool our resources, and see what we could do to help.
“We also discovered that it wasn't easy either to find part-time staff in particular, in spite of the current high unemployment rates. So we knew there was something missing in the whole process of job seeking, and in finding suitable employees" said Tom, owner of O'Connors Bar in Salthill. Over the past year, they researched and developed this idea, which has resulted in the creation of a Google map based employment site, iCanWork4u.com This new website is free to both prospective employees and also to employers, and the idea behind it is simple, it facilitates an instant connection between service providers and service seekers.
While icanwork4u.com began as way of finding employment for people who are available to work locally, the website has quickly gathered momentum, with people started to register internationally too.
The website has 'popped up' candidates from Galway to Greenland, with an enquiry from a sales and marketing person in Syria, and a piano teacher in Nigeria, all available and looking for work! The initial advertising campaign on social media focused solely on attracting service providers, but already interested employers are getting on board.
"We now have the employees, and we urge more people who are actually looking for staff to come onto the site, and post their classified listings up there, so that those who have already registered might find work quickly. Our research shows that if everybody on social welfare in Ireland stood in a line, it would stretch for seventy five miles approximately, and similarly the social welfare queue in Europe would stretch for 3,402 miles, which is the distance from London to New York. We want to shorten that line by 340 metres, that's our goal for starters, "said Mr O’Connor.
The process is straightforward, employment seekers simply need to register, pinpoint their location on the google map, and add their qualifications, skills and experience. Employers can then register on the site, and see who is available within a three kilometre radius of where they are located, and also internationally. Furthermore, the ability to showcase yourself without leaving your laptop is proving to be very popular.
Feedback from jobseekers on the site is "extremely positive" according to John Herterich, who worked in recruitment prior to taking over the family pork butchers in the centre of the city. "One of the employment seekers on the site has just gotten back to us to say that she found a job in her field very quickly, and was delighted to discover that she continued to receive work offers until she signed off with us, which is very reassuring," he added.
For people who have been out of work for a long time, it can be very difficult to go out and knock on doors, and now they do not have to. "It's the ideal way to 'put yourself out there', without leaving home," added Tom. The option to display a short video or still photograph, will be the next addition to the site, while phone apps are also being developed.