Lucky is a word that crops up frequently in a conversation with President of NUI Galway Jim Browne about his working life.
‘It started in Dean Kelly National School, Athlone where I was lucky to have a great teacher,’ he says.
‘I was lucky that Northern Electric were recruiting industrial engineers when I graduated and I was lucky that the government funded additional lecturing posts in engineering and the like just as I finished my PhD.
Jim graduated from then UCG in 1974 with a degree in electrical engineering and was taken on by Northern Electric – which had hardly been a year in Galway at the time.
‘I was sent to their factory in London, Ontario where I got fantastic training in what was then a high-tech environment,’ recalls Jim.
Following his return to Northern Electric in Galway Jim decided to pursue a Masters Degree at UCG and took up a contract lecturer position in engineering with the College.
He subsequently completed a PhD in Mechanical Engineering at Manchester University.
He returned to Galway in 1981 just as the Universities and Institutes of Technology were expanding to accommodate more engineering and science graduates as part of a government strategy to attract more foreign direct investment.
‘Again I was lucky, as I was able to tap into European funding for research projects in collaboration with Manchester University and local firms such as Digital and Northern Telecom,’ says Jim.
Some of these projects would have had benefits locally, helping to improve the manufacturing processes in companies such as Thermo King and CEL (now Valeo) in Tuam.
Jim has published over 200 academic papers and 15 books including translations into French and Chinese.
In 1996 he was appointed Head of the School of Engineering and Informatics and in 2001 he became Registrar and Deputy President of the University.
He was elected President of the University in 2008 and is currently in the sixth year of a ten-year term of office.
‘Third level education has changed dramatically in my time here and will continue to evolve quickly,’ he says.
‘Galway has moved from being an elite, fee-paying university catering for 2,500 students in the 1980’s to a mass education campus with 17,500 students and around 3,000 full time and part time staff.
There’s a greater mix of students with many more mature undergraduates in Arts, for example and a much wider selection of nationalities.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
New President for Local Ireland
The new President of Local Ireland, the association representing local news publishers around the country, is Head of Irish Times Regionals Dan Linehan.
Mr Linehan takes over the presidency from Declan McGuire of the Connacht Tribune. His appointment was confirmed at the recent Annual General Meeting of Local Ireland at Bloomfield House Hotel near Mullingar, Westmeath.
Mr Linehan, who has served as Vice President of the organisation for the last two years, said: “The coming years are a very important time for local publishers with many important issues to be addressed, including the implementation of the Future of Media Commission recommendations, defamation reform, the role and support for local publishers in public service reporting and helping publishers develop commercial digital offerings.”
Speaking at the AGM, Mr McGuire acknowledged the work done by the Executive in the past two years under the direction of Executive Director, Bob Hughes, on several projects related to the publishing industry but most especially the successful conclusion of the long-running campaign for the abolition of VAT on newspapers.
He also wished Mr Linehan the very best in his new role as President of the association for the next two years.
Mr Hughes thanked Mr McGuire for his leadership and support during his term of office and said he looked forward to working with Mr Linehan on the key policy priorities for the association, including Government supports, Government advertising, fair remuneration for content from the tech platforms and the reform of the legislation for defamation.
Local Ireland members also elected Seán Mahon, Managing Director of the Southern Star, as Vice President for the next two years.
Employers’ group hears of key challenges facing businesses in the region
The shortage of affordable housing is the single biggest impediment in attracting and retaining workers in the West, according to business group Ibec.
At a ‘Regional Insights Series’ meeting in the Galmont Hotel in Galway last week, employers were told that capacity constraints and labour supply are the key challenges facing business growth in the region.
Ibec Head of Regional Policy Helen Leahy said: “There must be greater focus by government on enhancing quality of life issues such as housing and infrastructure which are driving labour shortages in the region.
“Ibec’s vision for the West is to realise its potential to become a globally competitive location. An inadequate supply of affordable housing is now the single largest impediment to attracting and retaining talented workers, without whom business investment and expansions are not possible.
“Labour shortages are a real concern for businesses in the region. People decide where to live and work based on quality of life and access to high quality services and amenities. Industry tends to follow talent, and in this regard, the region needs to have all the building blocks in place as the attraction and retention of world-class talent becomes increasingly competitive on a global level,” said Ms Leahy.
Amongst Ibec’s priorities for the West are:
- Addressing housing and infrastructure challenges
- Transitioning towards a new growth model with Net Zero energy powered by Atlantic offshore wind resources
- Adapting businesses to the new economic realities
- Enhancing capacity and skillsets to achieve sustainable development objectives
- Investment in people and skills
- Creating competitive advantage through digitalisation
- Innovation as a key driver of productivity growth
Survey finds one in five retailers in Galway want to go fully cashless
One in five Galway businesses want to go fully cashless, as the move towards card payments and tapping continues unabated post-Covid.
In all, 22% of Galway businesses would like to be fully cashless, according to a survey carried out by BOI Payment Acceptance (BOIPA), a provider of payment technology solutions, which asked Irish businesses about the current payment landscape as well as business confidence and concerns.
Over one-third (36%) of Galway businesses were unaware there is no contactless limit on mobile wallets – just below the national average – while 54% believe the increase in card over cash transactions has helped them run their business.
Six out of ten Galway businesses expect to grow this year despite the cost-of-living crisis and running costs dominating as key concerns; 62% believe their business will grow over the next twelve months despite global economic uncertainty.
Unsurprisingly cost-of-living increases and running costs were the main concerns the majority of businesses had.
For more, read this week’s Connacht Tribune.
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