Canada, Australia, London or Berlin? Top destinations for job hunters

Despite jobs being available in Ireland, many people want to work abroad. Where are the best options?

With full employment in Ireland and employers scrabbling to fill skills gaps, it’s certainly a good time for job hunters to pick and choose at home. The National Skills Bulletin 2023, produced by Solas, states that the biggest shortages for workers are in science and engineering, construction, health and social care, and information and communication technology (ICT).

ICT remains relatively strong as the global trend of tech lay-offs, restructuring and recruitment freezes earlier this year were largely absorbed and offset by demand elsewhere in the sector in Ireland, with employment in the ICT sector reaching its highest levels ever in Q2 2023.

However, the summer 2023 Economic Insights report from the Department of Finance warns that “it is clear that the capacity for the sector to offset any further lay-offs is significantly eroded”.

On a positive note, the report points out that “the skill profile within the sector is highly transferable and as such workers laid off should have a high probability of finding work in other areas of the economy where labour demand remains elevated currently.” No need for tech workers to start looking into working abroad yet, then.


Construction is another area where demand is sure to remain high, with Government targets for housing and climate action ensuring a strong pipeline of demand to get projects over the line. A 2022 report from the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science estimated that 50,000 new entrants will be required across all skill levels over the period 2023-2030 to deliver Government targets for housing and retrofitting alone.

Despite plenty of skills shortages across numerous well-paid industries, for some the wanderlust remains strong. Apart from a thirst for adventure and new experiences, there are many pragmatic and strategic reasons to want to work abroad, varying from the better pay and patient ratios for nurses in Australia, to the chance to level up in senior business roles after putting in a couple of years in the US market.

There are multiple avenues to take on the work-abroad journey, from mobility within global firms, particularly in professional services, to secondments where Irish engineering firms have won global contracts.

There are also sector-specific agencies such as You and Aus, which places healthcare workers in Australia. Within Europe, the Eures Network, established by the EU, helps European citizens find work within other EU countries, with a jobs board advertising Europe-wide job opportunities and local Eures advisers throughout the network.

And there are plenty of sectors across the globe experiencing skills shortages for those who want to put their language skills to use or experience a different way of life abroad.

According to Frank Farrelly, chief executive and co-founder of Sigmar Recruitment, London remains the first port of call for many.

“London is its own economy and despite the high cost of living, good wages and suitable accommodation are available,” he says.

Germany, an evergreen European destination, is particularly popular now with the flight of young creatives to Berlin, attracted by its more affordable standard of living and lively club scene. But what jobs are available there? According to the results of a survey by the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK), reported in January, two-thirds of groups in the electrical equipment, mechanical engineering and car-making industries could not fill vacancies.

Another destination of choice is Canada, which is facing significant labour shortages. Almost a million job vacancies were recorded there in February 2023, with the healthcare, construction, manufacturing and food-service sectors among the most affected.

In Australia, always popular with Irish emigrants, the skills gap in many parts of the labour market remains an economic challenge, according to a quarterly report for March 2023 released by Jobs and Skills Australia. There are shortages in construction, automotive and engineering, the electrotechnology and communications trades, and among health professionals.

Looking at an uncertain world in 2024, are we likely to see a return to higher levels of emigration? Farrelly anticipates that the slowdown in economic expansion coupled with continued high inflation will affect the labour market here.

“Youth unemployment is relatively high and jobs at junior levels are scarcer,” he says, “This is usually a sign that companies and candidates are worried about hiring.”