Constructions companies are pleading with expats to come home to fill job vacancies fuelled by an anticipated construction boom,.
The Construction Industry Federation has forecast the industry will grow from €15bn to €20bn up to 2020, with an additional 112,000 employees needed to meet demand.
It estimates construction projects worth €19bn will commence or be completed in the next 12 months.
CIF has said up to 31,000 carpenters and joiners, 28,000 general labourers, 12,000 plumbers, and 14,000 plasterers are needed over the course of the next three years.
It has even set up a website, cifjobs.ie, to target the diaspora to fill the jobs.
The latest CSO figures show unemployment is down to 7.1%, meaning an even smaller pool of skilled workers to choose from.
Construction employers have started actively targeting people who moved abroad during the economic crash.
One of those companies, ICDS Constructors, took to the CIF website to make an appeal to the diaspora to consider a return.
“From the trough of 2013, the construction industry has gradually returned to expansion and at the end of 2016 all indicators point to sustainable long-term growth,” wrote its construction director Tom McHugh.
The latest CSO figures show 154,800 people were out of work in January, almost 30,000, or 16%, lower than a year earlier. The fall was particularly significant in the 15-24 age bracket, down to 13.5% last month from 18.1% in January 2016.
“Although emigration has been a factor to some degree in keeping unemployment down since the financial crisis, the labour market has improved dramatically in recent years, reflecting the strengthening of the economic recovery,” said Merrion economist Alan McQuaid.