Irish biased against foreign job seekers

Thu May 7, 2009 1:20pm EDT
 
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DUBLIN (Reuters) - Job seekers with foreign names are less than half as likely to be called for interview in Ireland as those with typical Irish names, a study showed Thursday.

During the boom years of the "Celtic Tiger" economy, Ireland attracted thousands of overseas workers, including an estimated 200,000 from Poland, but rising unemployment has hit immigrants hard.

In a study carried out on 240 job adverts in administration, accountancy and retail sales, a consistent level of discrimination was shown toward three minorities -- African, Asian and German.

The study was carried out between March and October 2008, when the rate of unemployment was nearly 7 percent.

The current estimated rate is over 11 percent and according to a recent Reuters poll is expected to hit 14 percent by the end of the year.

"The findings of this study don't just highlight a loss of equality of opportunity for potential non-Irish job applicants," said Richard Fallon, acting chief executive of Ireland's Equality Authority, which commissioned the research.

"They also point up a needless loss of business opportunity if we choose not to look to the skills behind the names on job applications."

Despite fears severe recession could stir up trouble against minorities in Ireland, the government last year slashed the budget of the Equality Authority and closed its own anti-racism advisory board.

The Equality Authority said the levels of discrimination detected in the study were higher than those found in similar experiments conducted in other countries.

(Reporting by Carmel Crimmins, editing by Mark Trevelyan)