A manufacturer in Listowel, County Kerry is having difficulty finding women to fill factory jobs.

Listowel is traditionally an agricultural community and "the factory girl" is a relatively new type of person in the Kerry town. The Jowika factory employs around forty girls, with some earning double what the average working girls in Listowel earns. However, few young women want to work in a factory. 

The girls here make cutlery for homes and knives for hunting and fishing for export markets in America, Australia and Africa.

The German-owned factory was officially opened in Listowel in 1962 by Sean Lemass, yet it has struggled to attract women to work at the factory. 

Reporter Bill O'Herlihy asks if this is because of the lack of industrial tradition in the town or because of an element of snobbery towards blue collar work. 

Playwright John B Keane owns a pub in Listowel and finds it incomprehensible that girls will not accept jobs in the factory. Keane sees an irony in the fact that many girls for Listowel are willing to take factory work under worse conditions in Britain but would not do the job in their hometown. For Keane, it is a case where "the teenager is King" and relay negative stories about the work environment at the Listowel factory which he claims just aren't true. 

Twenty years ago they were queuing up for jobs here, they were crying for jobs.

Keane believes that there are plenty of opportunities for women in Listowel but there is a certain element of snobbery which means that girls won't take jobs in factories.  

They won't work in a factory because they don't think it's fashionable enough, that it probably reduces their chances of getting husbands as well you see. But it should be on the contrary of course because a girl who is capable of working over a long period in a factory is obviously going to make a very sound wife.

According to Keane, while it is seen as somewhat taboo for girls to work in the factory, men who work there have a high status. 

Managing Director at Jowika, Henry Weber, believes that this shortage of women for factory work will have a serious effect on the town's industrial development.  He points to the lack of tradition in industrial work and a narrow view of education as the main reasons for the lack of women willing to take employment at his factory. 

They do not come to us to look for jobs, we have to go after them.

This episode of 'Newsbeat' was broadcast on 7 February 1968. The reporter is Bill O'Herlihy