Saturday 18 November 2017

One in seven workers born abroad

The multi-ethnicisation of Irish society over the past 20 years has been among the biggest changes the country has ever undergone. From a very homogeneous nation up until the time the Celtic Tiger emerged, the arrival of immigrants in large numbers has made Ireland more diverse than most other European countries, including some with long traditions of immigration.

As is often the case in large-scale migrations, economic opportunity was a central factor in the change, and this is well reflected in the composition of the labour market today. Almost one in seven people at work in the economy were not born here.

But if the share of the workforce accounted for by foreigners is broadly in line with the number of the non-nationals in the general population, there are big differences across sectors, as the chart shows.

The hospitality industry has most foreign workers, with one third of people employed hailing from other countries. As one might also expect, the highly internationalised technology sector has a higher than usual share of foreign workers, at 22pc of the total.

But not all sectors are as you might expect. The financial services industry, which has a significant traded component, most notably in Dublin's International Financial Services Centre, is more homogeneous in its employment patterns than the economy-wide average. Just over one in 10 of those working in finance and real estate are non-nationals.

The health sector is also less dependent on non-nationals than one might think, particularly given the frequent discussion of Irish doctors and nurses leaving for better opportunities abroad. Fewer than one in eight health workers are foreign. This could suggest that the exodus of Irish professionals may be somewhat exaggerated.

Sunday Indo Business

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