Builders who emigrated during the recession and have returned to Ireland cannot find work because qualifications earned in jurisdictions such as Australia, Canada, the US, New Zealand and Dubai are not recognised here, the Construction Industry Federation has said.
The CIF represents building firms, many of which have faced increasing difficulty in hiring qualified staff as the sector gradually recovers from the economic crash.
The number of construction jobs is up by 50,000 since 2013, but the high rate of emigration during the years of the economic downturn, coupled with declines in the number of apprenticeships over the past decade, has shrunk the pool of qualified staff.
CIF has called on the Government to “urgently address” the qualifications anomaly.
It wants the further education and training agency, Solas, to put in place recognition of qualifications gained abroad for returning workers.
CIF’s director of safety and training, Dermot Carey, said hundreds of skilled workers, with an array of construction licences, certificates and expertise, were being forced to repeat training courses they had already completed abroad before they could rejoin the workforce here. This, he said, created additional costs and delays and potentially put some people off returning at all.
Around 100,000 construction workers emigrated after the crash. The CIF believes that there is a shortfall of a similar magnitude in the number of workers needed at home between now and 2020.
“The Construction Industry Federation has been highlighting the difficulties faced by our returning workers as far back as 2012.
“Our members are reporting huge difficulties in attracting and onboarding returning emigrants into their companies because the qualifications they have gained overseas are not recognised by Irish authorities,” Mr Carey said.
A recent survey conducted by Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT) on behalf of the CIF found that 86pc of construction companies were experiencing difficulties in hiring qualified workers.
Returning emigrants are seen as a major pool of potential staff, but those who have come back to Ireland from Canada, Australia and New Zealand are coming up against barriers to employment including not only recognition of foreign qualifications, but also problems in obtaining a driving licence or motor insurance, CIF said.