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Global Mobility in Ireland - The Impact of Relocation

Global Mobility

Submitted by global_admin on Thu, 09/20/2018 - 04:31
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2018 has seen a change in global mobility in Ireland as the net inwards migration figures surpass the outward for the first time in ten years.

The global mobility of professionals is essentially ‘’The international migration of professionals’’. It is an employment trend which has been a focus of Irish society for many years. However, 2018 has brought with it some twists and turns which have changed Ireland’s position in terms of global mobility, as it increasingly becomes a desirable destination to migrate to, as opposed to an emigration hot spot. 

CSO figures are stating that for the first time in 10 years, more Irish citizens are returning home than leaving. The net inward migration in Ireland in 2018 was 34,000. The Irish economy is now approaching full employment which reflects the current economic conditions. This has led to the number of professionals actively seeking job opportunities decreasing by 13.7% as opposed to August 2017. With the economy in such a stable place, Ireland is proving attractive once more for Irish emigrants. Irish workers overseas are now actively searching for jobs here in Ireland and especially those who are working in the UK at the moment. The main factors contributing to this are;

  • Confidence in the Irish jobs market and the economy
  • Returning Irish immigrants who left as singletons and are returning to raise families here
  • Better standard of living  
  • Popular destinations such as Australia and the UK’s economies and job markets not being as strong as they once were - resulting in Ireland being seen as a more competitive market. 


Certain disciplines and roles are more prone to global mobility than others. The main areas which stand out for global mobility are engineering, life sciences, pharma, technology, accountancy, FMCG, governance/risk and compliance and project management office. One incentive which is available in the Irish market to encourage employees in these areas to stay in, come to or return to work in Ireland is the Critical Skills Employment Permit. This is designed to attract highly skilled people into the labour market with the main aim being to encourage them to take up permanent residence within the State. It is attractive because the skills listed are identified as being in short supply, a Labour Market Needs Test is not required. Permit holders can also apply for immediate family reunification from the Department of Justice and Equality so that once their dependants/spouses are residents in the State they are eligible to seek any employment and apply to the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation for a Dependant/Partner/Spouse Employment Permit.

However, there are some delays in visa registrations which are preventing thousands of non-EU trained professionals from securing employment in Ireland. As well as this type of permit, there is also more acceptance and expectation from employers about the flexibility they need to provide in order to source and attract talent, including relocation, travel costs, etc. We have also seen an increase in the number of multinational and large companies moving to Ireland.According to the IDA there were 237 new investments and 19,851 new jobs created in 2017, bringing the total employment by foreign owned companies (IDA clients) to 210,443. A number of these were within the technology space. Therefore, Ireland is steadily growing as a ‘’technology hub’’ for the wider European region.This is also evident in the many tech startups which continue to emerge from Ireland, especially in the field of artificial intelligence.

United Arab Emirates

In terms of places to go to, while there is and has always been the popular locations of USA, Australia and Canada, we are seeing an emerging trend of people looking towards the UAE as a relocation destination. Over the past few years, the Irish population in the region has soared, going from 4,000 to 11,000 in the past five years alone. Not only that, but a further 2,700 are based in Saudi Arabia, 2,000 in Qatar and more than 1,000 between Bahrain, Oman and Kuwait. So, why exactly is this? Well, for a start the tax-free salaries are a huge incentive for Irish workers. Most employers in the UAE offer packages which include accommodation allowances, health insurance, school fees, and also a return flight home every year. The transport links between Ireland and the UAE have never been stronger - there are now 28 direct flights a week between the UAE and Dublin, making travel and ease of access more convenient than ever before. Lucrative job opportunities are available in the UAE across new industries such as engineering and supply chain, as well as teaching and healthcare which we generally associate with the area.


Another factor which of course has an important impact on global mobility and Ireland is Brexit. The movement of professionals will indeed continue around the EU, not only to Ireland but also to key destinations such as Germany, but will more than likely be excluding the UK. There will be challenges and obstacles, such as tariffs and legislative and trading agreements that we cannot foresee, but given that Ireland is one of the UK’s main trading partners, our ability to continue to work and trade with the UK is both economically important and critical for how the rest of the EU responds. The Irish pharma & chemical industry has expressed much concern around the potential implications that Brexit could have on the free flow of talent, which is discussed further in our Science review. 

As Ireland becomes a more lucrative destination for professionals seeking to relocate, thanks to Brexit, there should be an increase in business activity, including mergers, acquisitions and overall business expansion, etc. The UK has always been a key destination for Irish looking to move abroad and Irish citizens in Britain will continue to receive all their common rights under the Common Travel Area. This was established in 1920, and allows British and Irish citizens to live and travel freely between each others countries. 

Depending on the sector of hiring, most companies favour more experience, cross functionally and sectorally, as well as any international or cultural benefits that that may bring with it, therefore global experience comes into play as a valuable asset here. Sectors which stand out in particular for favouring professionals with internationals experience include Accounting & Finance, where it is encouraged by most of the larger accounting and finance organisations. The same can be said within the engineering market, where many companies are supporting global projects, global deliveries and global moves. Within engineering, most newly qualified professionals are striving towards achieving 5 years solid experience which should then allow them to apply for most roles in their sector, in particular senior positions. Global mobility is encouraged when working towards achieving this, as it often exposes professionals to higher levels of responsibility, larger scale projects and opportunities to learn a different engineering culture, learning new units and building a knowledge of the industry in that area which they can then bring back to Ireland with them in the future. 

Immigration Barriers

While it is fair to say that there are more advantages than disadvantages when it comes to global mobility, there are some issues which arise when it comes to returning home to Ireland. Examples of which are recognition of driving licenses that were obtained overseas and the lack of affordable housing and job opportunities in an individual’s chosen field can also cause considerable difficulty. Another barrier which poses significant problems is that of ‘’recognition of qualifications’’. Returning Irish emigrants often face difficulties in getting their overseas qualifications recognised which actually prevents some emigrants from moving back. This is commonplace among many industries, from practical roles like electricians and construction workers to those working in healthcare and HR. This continues to be a problem and is something which the Irish government need to address in order to facilitate returning emigrants into the country. One such government funded initiative working towards resolving this is the Crosscare Migrant Project, which is a government funded agency supporting Irish emigrants and immigrants, on behalf of their clients. 

Global mobility of professionals, particularly in the contingent or the contract market affords more flexibility to organisations to leverage unique expertise and talent; set up new divisions, projects or areas by hiring project teams, this is all experience that does not have the high capacity cost of hiring a full time individual. New services lines such as talent pooling also mean that more organisations can look towards future proofing their businesses by way of building up a database of professionals who are engaged to work with employers. 

In 2019, we expect to see a further increase in the global mobility of Irish professionals. No relevant economic factors are set to negatively change next year which would impact this. Given this, we look set to see increased competitiveness and continued demand for talent across all markets, as well as an increase in business activity all round.

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