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Irish Chamber

Two way traffic

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Recent conversations our CEO has had with members have identified a growing trend which will be welcomed by many. In increasing numbers, young Irish professionals in Australia are realistically considering returning to Ireland.

It started with the odd one here and there, mainly there was a family reason, sometimes a happy event, at other times a sadder set of circumstances.

Then in the first few months of this year, it was a more regular occurrence. Now, it can safely be called a trickle but certainly not a flood. Yes, while we still welcome new arrivals, there are increasing numbers of young Irish professionals in Australia heading back to Ireland with higher hopes than before and armed with some great experiences and knowledge to provide value to the business community there. They have the opportunity as returning Diaspora to make a positive contribution.

Family still plays a significant role in these decisions. If you consider that many of the arrivals of the last number of years who have made their way in Australia have been growing up, it doesn't matter where you're living, life goes on and significant life events will take place. Many of those who arrived in the dark days of 2008 and 2009 have entered into relationships, some have married and others have started, or are about to start, a family. When these things are going on, people's priorities can change and it wouldn't be unexpected to see a few return to their families in Ireland for that valuable support.

The difference in the stories I've been hearing recently is that there's an increasing sense of optimism among those who are making plans to return to Ireland. They know that things aren't what they were during the final years of the celtic tiger but they are firm in their belief that there are now more opportunities for them to realistically secure work in their chosen field. The sense of realism is there and many expect to start off in a contract role while they wait for the right longer term option. A few in professions such as accounting and law also expect that many employers will negate their recent experience and they will be appointed at a level equivalent to that at which they left Ireland. That is a great shame if it were to be the common experience.

I understand that current technical expertise is important in many of these roles but surely a young Irish professional who has made an international move and been exposed to new ways of working and fresh thinking would be a great addition to a progressive workplace back in Ireland?

For some of those who are heading home, their experience in Australia has inspired them to try to set up their own small business when they return to Ireland. I look forward to hearing how they go in their new ventures and am encouraged that their entrepreneurial spirit has remained unbroken.

Barry Corr