Before the pandemic, remote work was a rare privilege that very few employees or jobseekers had access to. If you were asked to picture a remote worker, you would not immediately think of someone living in rural Ireland.
Fast forward to the post-COVID world and the prevalence of remote working has exploded, becoming mainstream across a range of job types and sectors.
With the Government getting ready to deliver a new law giving employees the right to request remote work, it looks like remote work is here to stay for the long term. So, what does this mean for rural Ireland?
For the nearly two million people who live in rural Ireland, the shift to remote work is an opportunity to address the decline which they have witnessed over the past decades, where closed down shops, shuttered pubs and derelict post offices are the everyday reality. Young people, traditionally forced to migrate to cities to find good jobs, will have the opportunity to live and work in their local community if they wish.
Workers will no longer have to commute to the nearest large town or city every day but instead will be able to spend their time locally and contribute to the local economy. This could be particularly impactful for people engaged in part-time farming, who often struggle to balance their work on the farm with their off-farm responsibilities. Remote work gives people the flexibility to structure their lives around their work, not the other way around.
There are 80,000 remote job opportunities available to people living in rural Ireland – and they are not all tech jobs. These are full-time and part-time roles across multiple sectors and industries, from entry level customer service jobs right up to senior leadership roles.
The problem is that many people living in rural Ireland do not know about these opportunities or how to go about finding a remote job for themselves.
Remote jobs are not advertised in the local newspaper and you will not hear about them on the local radio.
There is also a remote skills gap in Ireland, as remote work was forced upon people without time for adequate training on how to succeed in this new way of working.
John Evoy is the General Manager with Grow Remote, a non-profit organisation offering fully funded training programmes, in partnership with the Laois-Offaly Education and Training Board. Find out more at www.growremote.ie/training.