Employers are now looking to lure back skilled and professional workers who emigrated during the recession, due to a skills shortage here.
Unlike at the height of the recession when thousands of job-seekers queued outside Dublin's RDS to explore overseas job prospects, many recruiters are now looking to entice skilled Irish workers back to Ireland.
"The story in Ireland 2015 is people are coming home," Stephen McClarnon, CEO of Wanna Ltd, which sponsors the Working Abroad Expos held in Dublin and Cork since 2004, told the Sunday Independent. "I think this year will be the turning point. The number of Irish people leaving will probably be equal to the numbers returning for the first time in eight years."
A combination of factors, including a relative stabilisation of house prices and the economic recovery, is opening up more opportunities for workers to return home, especially skilled tradespeople and professionals.
"We're now hosting Working Abroad Expos in Perth where we're recruiting Irish to come back home. We're already talking to a significant number of Irish employers looking to recruit out of the Australian market alone," Mr McClarnon added.
John Phillips, human resources manager for Cork-based Dornan Engineering, recently recruited three Irish mechanical and electrical engineers who hail from Dublin, Cork and Co Clare, back from Perth and Sydney, Australia. They left here between 2008 and 2010 due to the lack of jobs following the collapse of the construction industry.
While currently based in Holland and the UK to work on projects there, they are expected to return to Ireland within six months.
Mr Phillips said a permanent position in Ireland, and an immediate posting in a European city less than a two hours' flight home, was a huge incentive for them as well as decent pay and benefits packages. The company is also providing free flights back to Ireland every four to six weeks as an added bonus. "We make sure they get home often," he said. "The pool (of skilled and experienced engineers) has become much smaller here and they were only too happy to come back."
Typical salaries for engineering jobs range between €30,000 and €60,000.
Irish global recruitment firm Cpl Resources noticed a similar trend at the end of 2014 and ran a special social media campaign at Christmas called 'Home: It's Not Just for Christmas' aimed at enticing Irish expatriates who were home for the holiday to move back permanently. It has set a target to bring back 3,000 Irish workers this year after recruiting more than a thousand Irish workers to jobs in Australia, Canada and the UK in recent years.
Avril McHugh, Cpl's marketing manager, said there is now a huge pent-up demand for both Irish professionals and skilled tradespeople that there wasn't five years ago, noting the company had approximately 2,500 mostly full-time job vacancies last week compared to less than half that number in 2012.
Much sought-after workers include scientists working in the pharmaceutical industry, as well as financial service and legal professionals, healthcare and IT workers, as well as construction and aviation workers.
The shift comes as emigration is expected to continue to decline this year after approximately 89,000 Irish citizens emigrated between April 2012 and April 2013 and another 81,900 Irish workers left between April 2013 and 2014, according to the most recent emigration estimates from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).
"Emigration in our opinion peaked in 2012-2013," Mr McClarnon said.
As the host of major international recruitment fairs in Ireland, Europe and North America, he predicts fewer than 20,000 Irish workers will emigrate to Australia this year, followed by 15,000 to Canada and 10,000 to the UK.