What are returning Irish emigrants most worried about?
Survey of GAA clubs abroad finds job prospects and living costs are biggest concerns
The Crosscare survey results also found the challenges facing Irish people when they move abroad vary depending on where they go in the world. GAA clubs in Australia and New Zealand were most likely to highlight concerns relating to health and mental health among the Irish living there. Photograph: iStock
Employment prospects in Ireland have been identified as the most significant concerns among Irish emigrants looking to move back to Ireland.
A survey of GAA clubs abroad, carried out by Crosscare Migrant Project to capture the experiences of Irish emigrants globally, found potential returnees are also worried about the high cost of living in Ireland, as well as lifestyle changes and the possibility of getting visas for non-Irish spouses and partners.
The online survey asked what advice clubs abroad would give to future Irish emigrants, and what issues might be preventing Irish people living abroad from returning to Ireland, based on their connections with them. Eighty club officers responded.
Finding suitable work related to their chosen career, the possibility of lower wages and higher taxes, and the lack of secure, full-time and permanent roles were mentioned by several respondents as specific concerns among emigrants looking to return to Ireland.
Other respondents mentioned concerns about whether the skills, experience and qualifications they earned abroad would be recognised in Ireland.
Job opportunities are seen to be limited outside Dublin, some club officers said, while one mentioned a lack of perceived job progression in Ireland.
Almost half of all respondents referred to living costs as a perceived barrier among emigrants wanting to moving back, along with difficulty accessing social welfare, and the high cost of rent, third-level education and car and health insurance.
A smaller number of respondents said the change in lifestyle would be a concern, including a drop in their current standard of living, the cost of settling back, friends having moved or emigrated, re-adjusting to the Irish weather, and the “conservative lifestyle” in Ireland.
The survey results also found the challenges facing Irish people when they move abroad vary depending on where they go in the world. Clubs in Australia and New Zealand were most likely to highlight concerns relating to health and mental health among the Irish living there. Visas and overstaying illegally were big issues mentioned by clubs in the US and Canada, while the cultural differences and social isolation experienced by Irish emigrants stood out among clubs in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
When asked what advice they would give to future emigrants, club offers said they should research their destination country before departure; prepare as much as possible with savings, employment, accommodation, and by making connections in advance with Irish living there or local GAA clubs; be aware that it takes time to source a job and accommodation; and to learn the language if moving to a non-English speaking country.
Crosscare Migrant Project is a non-profit agency working with immigrants and emigrants, under the remit of the Dublin Archdiocese. The full report is available do download at bit.ly/2b86AzT.