As the economic recovery continues, with GDP growth of 3.9% predicted for 2015, standardised unemployment at 10.5% and 73% of companies intending to hire permanent staff in 2015 the government is considering a number of income tax reform measures to attract emigrants home to Ireland.
With over ¾ million people born in Ireland living abroad, the potential to bring emigrants home to fill major skills gaps is huge. At a recent IBEC president’s dinner the Taoiseach set an objective of replacing all the 330,000 jobs lost during the recession with new jobs by 2020.
The Taoiseach also emphasised that the marginal tax rate of 52%; which comprises of Income Tax, PRSI and the Universal Social Charge, is a major disincentive to Irish emigrants who are considering returning home. In a recent Seanad debate,
Deputy Tom Hayes spoke about a number of Irish companies, who in recent years went to Australia, in an effort to attract and recruit Irish people. The emphasis will be on Irish people who have emigrated in recent years as it is perceived that they will be easier to attract home, having yet to establish firm roots in their host country.
However a change in income tax in line with Income tax regimes in Australia, England and Canada is a good start but may not be enough. The depth of the economic recession which Ireland experienced has left many Irish cynical when reading stories of Irish economic recovery. Whilst a continuous flow of good news stories syndicated through Irish networks in the UK, Australia and Canada is very important, it would have more significant impact if accompanied by something tangible. International jobs fairs promoting opportunities back home in Ireland is a very tangible means of getting Irish employers in front of potential employers, without having to incur the huge expense of returning to Ireland for interview.
However, unless subsidised by the Irish state, the cost to Irish companies can prove prohibitive to send for example four staff members to jobs fairs to locations such as Perth, Sydney and Calgary. Another less expensive and greatly effective alternative, if done properly, are conference calls and Skype interviews. The final alternative would be for the Irish state to subsidise flights for Irish emigrants returning home for a series of interviews. Although slightly complicated, this measure has the potential to greatly enhance Ireland’s talent pool.
With 77,500 Irish born people living in Australia alone, many of them highly skilled, with approximately 40% having emigrated in recent years, the opportunity to attract them home is immense. However the recruitment processes need to be streamlined, more flexible and innovative in order to minimise the expense involved. An injection of returned emigrants who have acquired a specific expertise abroad is critical to sustaining Ireland’s economic growth, increasing social cohesion through re-uniting families and filling many skill gaps which are now emerging in the Irish economy.