Is Britain’s difficulty, Ireland’s opportunity 100 years on?

Following the UK’s recent vote to leave the European Union, both print and social media have been filled with mountains of theories and ideologies on why this is a disaster for Britain and the potential knock on impact it will have on Ireland and it’s economy.

Let’s face it, the UK is Ireland’s largest trading partner and we are bound historically, culturally and linguistically, ties that mean anything our neighbours do will have a ripple effect on this side of the pond, not to mention it’s impact north of the border. History shows that we followed the UK into Europe in 1973 and we’re bound to feel the effects of their departure more than our European counterparts. It would be only natural that we’d feel the chill from our nearest neighbours leaving the party, begging the question – what happens now?

We’ve all seen the headlines – “BREXIT spells disaster for Ireland”; “BREXIT is bad for trade”; “Worse than the Financial Crisis”, etc, etc, etc. So much has been written that I’m all BREXITed out.

But what if there is a potential upside in all of this apparent crisis? What if Britain’s difficulty is Ireland’s opportunity once again? Before we all rush to judgement on this apparent “disaster”, consider the following.

Ireland has for many years been suffering from a “brain drain” as we watched thousands of our brightest and best graduates leaving these shores, many of them to seek their fortunes in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool and elsewhere in the UK. With heightened fear and paranoia that restrictions on freedom of movement might bring, the Irish Passport office has reportedly hit peak levels since the vote results. Are we about to witness a mass migratory return of these self same Irish emigrants, bringing with them skills, experience and knowledge that can help our economy? Add to this a reported rise in British born applicants seeking our coveted passports and you have the recipe for a massive inward migration of skills which could fill the gaps in out talent pool.

From a recruitment perspective, this is potentially a very exciting development, one I must admit I hadn’t anticipated prior to the vote. An unintended consequence of Britain’s vote to leave the EU may well be a “brain drain” of their own, with Ireland set to reap the benefits of attracting a highly skilled, educated workforce we simply don’t have in sufficient quantities here.

One obvious skills shortage exists in our technology sector with many employers citing the shortage of suitably qualified Software Engineers, Software Developers and systems experts as being the greatest impediments to further growth. In 2014, a Eurostat report which looked at the “Information and Communication Technology” (ICT) labour market across the EU showed that more than 51% of Irish businesses had difficulties filling vacancies for IT Specialists. This compared with an EU average of just 40% and served to highlight the major gap in our talent pool. Ireland now has the opportunity to target these talent pools strategically and to position ourselves as the “go to market” of choice for any disgruntled Remain campaigners.

It will require some effort, patience and ingenuity on our part to identify the source of the most desirable skills available in the UK, but an obvious starting point should be targeting anyone normally resident in the UK applying for an Irish passport. We spend millions every year attracting foreign direct investment to this country, so this calls for some joined up thinking on our part to ensure that we make the most of this opportunity to attract as much potential talent as possible.

If you’ve been affected by this article or are worried about the potential impact BREXIT may have on your career, why not contact Campbell Rochford today to discuss your options.

Campbell Rochford – Turning Good To Great

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