Irish emigrants in Australia offered free flights home to fill jobs in Ireland

Booming economy in Ireland creates shortages in IT, construction, health and finance

Irish emigrants living in Australia have been promised free flights home by a recruitment agency if they return to fill job vacancies in the healthcare and pharma, construction, finance and IT sectors.

Australia was the destination of choice for many young Irish emigrants following the collapse of the Celtic Tiger in 2008. It is estimated that 100,000 Irish people moved to Australia between 2008 and 2014.

Emigration peaked at the height of the recession in 2012 when 17,400 people moved from Ireland to Australia, according to figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

An improving economy at home and greater visa restrictions in Australia have seen that number fall off dramatically. Just 5,300 people arrived in Australia from Ireland last year.


The number of people moving from Australia to Ireland in the same period has steadily increased, from 4,500 in 2012 to 7,200 last year.

The latest migration statistics from the CSO show that more Irish nationals returned to Ireland (28,400) than left (28,300) in the 12 months to April 2018. Though the net inward migration is small, it is seen as significant as the Irish economy reaches full employment.

Recruitment problems

In an effort to lure more Irish workers back, FRS Recruitment is undertaking a roadshow in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane, from from Thursday November 8th until Tuesday 13th.

There are 150 doctors’ vacancies across the Irish health service to be filled by January, more than 100 nurses and allied health professionals’ roles, 120 construction-related positions, and an unquantifiable number of jobs in IT. The vacancies are in every county.

The agency will reimburse the cost of flights for all successful candidates to the value of AUS$1,000 (€938) after six months of continuous employment. The placed candidate must commence employment with FRS Recruitment’s client within three months of returning to Ireland.

This is in addition to the “strong, attractive packages” which will be on offer for potential returning emigrants, according to FRS. In some cases, relocation packages will also be offered, depending on the employer.

FRS Recruitment general manager Colin Donnery said the flight incentive is in response to the difficulties employers are having in recruiting candidates to fill vacancies in these sectors in Ireland.

“As the country is moving closer to full employment, it is becoming more difficult to find suitably qualified personnel. Companies in Ireland are increasingly looking further afield to find people to fill important roles. For these companies it is not just about filling the vacancy, it is about finding the right candidate that meets their needs,” he said.

Roadshow attendees will be provided with a range of information about moving back to Ireland, insights on the current Irish jobs market including salary details, as well as practical advice on how to handle the logistics and paperwork involved.


“During the recession a lot of qualified, educated people left these shores to seek out opportunities that simply were no longer available in Ireland. Australia was a particularly popular location, given the thriving jobs marketplace Down Under at that time.

“Many of these expats have since gone on to develop strong careers in Australia, growing their experience and maintaining impressive CVs,” Donnery said.

“There is a particularly strong demand for personnel in the construction, IT, healthcare, medical device/ pharmaceutical and financial sectors at the moment. There are plenty of Irish people working in these sectors in Australia who would be of great interest to employers back in this country. We know just how badly their skillsets are needed in this market and how these great positions could provide a fantastic opportunity for returning home.”

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy

Ronan McGreevy is a news reporter with The Irish Times