Popping home every year for a few months, affords one the opportunity to re-immerse fully back into Irish society but with a more objective perspective each time.
2011, saw the most expensive restaurants and boutiques close their doors. Several other businesses that were reliant on the construction industry started to slacken off before eventually giving up. Fireplace suppliers, window and door suppliers, furniture importers, manufacturing exporters, plumbers, electricians and carpenters all re-trained as Energy Rating specialists. Brand managers, marketing executives, sales account managers, client liaison managers all grew surplus to requirement in the SME’s and subsequently found themselves applying for any administrative position within a hundred mile radius. Civil, structural and environmental Engineers, quantity surveyors and project managers, considered Dublin and London before eventually taking off to Doha.
2012 saw the newly qualified 650,000 BER specialists become unemployed again albeit this time with a loan for a newly sign-written van and a super duper website. FETAC courses started selling like boil in the bag curries in the 80’s. Those that vowed they never would, went to Boston….Boston Scientific. Auctioneers became stay-at-home moms, Car-salesmen continued to become downhearted and insurance salesmen became wedding photographers. Everyone that was ever able to crack an egg started making character birthday cakes and cupcakes. Lollipop trees became an industry and pet products became a force to be reckoned with. More and more people starting working from home doing what they always did, graphic design or accounting, just on a smaller scale i.e. 1:1.
2013, the 650,000 BER rating assessors fell down to 550 determined campaigners. ‘An income’ is a measure to determine job satisfaction. Whether its card making, tour-bus driving or church wedding music, it’s no longer considered a cottage industry, it’s an income, a job, the means to the end. The pre-recession beautician is on the customer service desk of Woodies and the guy that fitted your bathroom tiles is driving a taxi.
2014 and it seems that the 550 BER assessors that held out, are gainfully employed. Those that have spent a few years, inside ……….inside in Boston Scientific are getting ready to come out and start again. The restaurateurs are opening, mid-priced, high quality eateries. The boutique owners stayed working in the fashion industry and are wiser and shrewder than even before and ready to make a venture again. All the premises that were hoarded and boarded up are re-opened with a variety of new services and imaginably very different lease agreement to those that signed up in 2009.
It’s true even through mine own pessimistic eyes, the economy is once again, gaining haste. The long reported green shoots are becoming evident. Slowly but surely small industry is coming back to life, people has shed their debt (somehow) reduced their financial requirement and have begun to start again, but this time, surefooted and grounded.
For all those that are starting again in the same industry they left nearly five years ago, there are as many more that have re-invented themselves to be what they always wanted to be, so be careful when you meet your old colleague on the street and you ask him who he’s a buyer now and he replies that he now runs a doggie hotel…..like, for doggies. Or when you ask your friend the solicitor how her practise is going and she happily tells you that she’s ditched conveyancing and indeed litigation in general for bouncy castles and helium balloons. Or the thousands that have gone back to college for finish their degree or get a masters. People seem more satisfied, did the dip offer us the opportunity to diversify and seek out new opportunities?
Little by little the buds are beginning to burst open, small to medium size building contractors are kept going with renovations and an odd new build. Tilers, carpenters, plumbers and electricians, are slowly filling the passenger seats again and even the number of BER assessors has gone from 550 to 670. Businesses are re-sized, re-adjusted and diversified, a rainbow nation.
The guys that up sticks and went to Doha have yet to find solace, as they skip from Doha to Dubai to Delhi still in search for the pot of the gold.