Diversity Wins: Ireland Has One of the Most Positive Attitudes Towards Foreign Workers in Europe

Diversity Wins, bringing a lot to Irish society

Ireland has one of the most positive attitudes towards the contributions of foreign workers to the economy according to new research by jobs site Indeed. 

Indeed evaluated 8 countries in Europe and found very favourable sentiment for the skills and economic contribution of migrant workers in Ireland, with 86% of respondents saying they enjoy working with colleagues from other countries. This was the highest of the countries surveyed by some distance, with the UK the next most positive (77%) and Switzerland next (75%); Belgium had the lowest percentage of people favourably disposed (63%).

Diversity Wins: Ireland’s Positive Attitude Towards Foreign Workers

81% of Irish people also agreed that cultural diversity benefits businesses in the economy, compared to just 67% of people in France and 71% in Germany.

Analysing the attitudes and opinions of employers and employees in Ireland, the survey shows there are many perceived benefits to diversity in the labour force. 78% of respondents in Ireland believe that foreign workers pay taxes that help keep public services running. Ireland was again the most positive country, followed by UK (70%) and Switzerland (69%), with the Netherlands the laggard (50%).

When it comes to our education system, 78% of those surveyed in Ireland agree that foreign nationals contribute skills that our education system does not meet and 71% say that foreign nationals bring complimentary skills to the workforce.

In today’s tight labour market, there is a recognition that inward migration from foreign workers is beneficial to help fill hard-to-fill occupations, with 63% of respondents acknowledging that foreign nationals are needed to fill skill gaps.

From the perspective of the employer, 78% of businesses in Ireland said they have hired foreign nationals in the last 5 years, and 80% of businesses plan to recruit foreign nationals for their operations in Ireland in 2022.

Cross-border labour mobility is a strong feature of the Irish labour market force, with results showing that almost 1 in 3 (29%) workers in Ireland have worked in another country. Emigration and travel are hallmarks of Irish society and Ireland ranked second behind Belgium (30%) and well above the average (18%) for labour mobility across the 8 countries, while France has the lowest level of workers who worked in other countries (10%).

Despite the numerous benefits of employers drawing from the global talent pool, it comes with challenges when sourcing the talent. In Ireland, 84% of businesses think that attracting high-skilled workers from other countries is important for our economy. Many businesses are already taking steps to hire foreign workers including posting job ads abroad (29%); hiring foreign recruitment agencies (22%); and providing supports to settle in Ireland including housing, childcare and visa support (18%).

With employers going to great lengths to invest time and resources into overseas recruitment to fill labour shortages, 58% of businesses say the government should make it easier for foreign nationals to come to Ireland. 

Commenting on the research, Jack Kennedy, Economist at Indeed said: “Ireland has a long history of emigration with pockets of Irish people living all over the world. These survey results show that the positive attitude to migration works both ways and there is a strong recognition of the positive contribution of inward migration to our economy and culture.  

“With a shortage of skilled workers there is a recognition that migrants from overseas can help fill important gaps, but that more can be done by the Government to help ease the path of those moving to Ireland. The data is clear that Irish businesses have been actively recruiting across international markets and plan to continue to do so into the future. However, competitive labour markets domestically and internationally highlight the effort that businesses need to put in to attract these highly skilled talent pools”, Mr Kennedy continued.

Indeed’s research also shows Irish employers are well disposed to helping refugees fleeing war in Ukraine. 46% of employers surveyed said they had made special arrangements to support Ukraine refugees (the 4th highest of the 8 countries reviewed on this metric), and 30% sought to fast-track Ukrainian refugee job applications.