Why is Ireland Losing Its STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Talent? Is It the Bad Weather?

It's not just leprechauns that are elusive these days – Ireland's STEM professionals are disappearing too! In the past year alone, more than 64,000 people bid farewell to the Emerald Isle, raising eyebrows, and prompting the question: "Where is our talent going?" But is the gloomy Irish weather to blame, or is there more to this story? 

The Irish Exodus 

It's not just leprechauns that are elusive these days – Ireland's STEM professionals are disappearing too! In the past year alone, more than 64,000 people bid farewell to the Emerald Isle, raising eyebrows, and prompting the question: "Where is our talent going?" But is the gloomy Irish weather to blame, or is there more to this story? 

The Vanishing Act 

In the last two years, Ireland has witnessed a notable surge in emigration, resembling a scene from a magician's show – but instead of rabbits, it's our STEM professionals disappearing into thin air. The departure numbers have skyrocketed, with a staggering 64,000 individuals saying goodbye to the rolling green hills and lively pub culture in the 12 months leading up to April 2023. This migration wave marks one of the highest figures recorded in recent history, leaving everyone scratching their heads and wondering, "Where is our talent going?" This isn't just a mere blip on the radar; it's a departure parade that demands attention and introspection. As we watch a stream of skilled minds exit the country, it prompts us to delve into the underlying factors fueling this mass migration.

"64,000 people departed Ireland in the 12 months – where is our talent going?" 

Beyond the raw numbers, it's crucial to understand the narratives behind each departure – the stories of aspirations, challenges, and the pursuit of greener pastures. Whether it's a quest for better opportunities, a change in lifestyle, or a response to global shifts, these are the tales that define the Great Irish STEM Migration. 

The Global Odyssey 

The top destinations for Irish emigrants are the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Canada, Spain, South Africa, Germany, France, and New Zealand. From the allure of the historic streets of London to the promise of Silicon Valley's tech utopia, or the sun-kissed beaches of Australia, each destination holds its unique appeal. The Irish exodus becomes a fascinating exploration of cultural exchanges, career ambitions, and the pursuit of adventure.

As we try to decode the motivations behind the Great Irish STEM Migration, it's not merely about understanding the numbers but unraveling the human stories, aspirations, and dreams that paint a bigger picture. What drives an individual to pack up their life and skills and set sail for distant shores? The answers lie within the statistics, but the real stories are waiting to be uncovered as we navigate the paths of these intrepid STEM professionals leaving Ireland.

Unraveling the Pull Factors 

Salary, Career Opportunities, and Quality of Life: The Triad of Temptation 

When it comes to
what's enticing our talented minds to venture beyond their homeland, the trio of salary, career opportunities, and quality of life takes center stage. It's no secret that competitive compensation packages, promising career growth trajectories, and an improved standard of living have a magnetic effect, drawing professionals toward new horizons.

Salary Considerations: According to recent statistics, a significant number of Irish emigrants highlight the allure of higher salaries abroad as a prime motivator. In several destination countries, particularly in the United States and Australia, the earning potential for STEM professionals often outstrips what's available domestically. 

Ireland is a leading tech hub with high demand for STEM careers. STEM salaries in Ireland are 29% higher than other sectors.  

The average salary for a scientist in Ireland is €58,000 per year. Entry-level positions start at €45,113 per year, while experienced workers can make up to €82,875 per year.  

The average salary for a graduate engineer in Ireland is €38,390 per year.  

Here are some average STEM salaries in other countries:  

  1. United States: $84,571
  2. United Kingdom: £51,942
  3. Europe: €62,877 

According to a Sage Journals article, the STEM wage premium is higher in the United States than in other countries. Tech Behemoths says that Switzerland and the United States offer the highest salaries for IT jobs, with an average range of $100,000 to $120,000 per year. 

Career Opportunities: The thirst for professional development and advancement is another driving force. The lure of cutting-edge projects, innovative work environments, and the promise of climbing the career ladder acts as a powerful catalyst. In fact, surveys indicate that a substantial portion of Irish expats seeks opportunities that align with their long-term career goals. 

Quality of Life: Beyond financial considerations, the desire for an enhanced quality of life plays a pivotal role. Access to better housing, healthcare, superior education systems for families, and an overall improved standard of living serve as attractive propositions for those contemplating a move.   

The Most Popular Job Sectors: Mapping the Career Landscape 

There is a staggering 81% of employers encountering challenges in securing highly skilled workers. The demand is particularly pronounced in key career fields, including Information Technology, Healthcare, Science, and Engineering. 

Within these sectors, specific job titles are experiencing critical shortages, creating a pressing need for skilled professionals. These roles encompass Industrial Pharmacists, Chemical Scientists in Manufacturing, Medical Lab Scientists, Biochemists in Manufacturing, Structural Engineers, Site Engineers, Mechanical Engineers, and Electrical Engineers. 

Moreover, other vital job sectors in Ireland are grappling with skill shortages, notably in Engineering. This scarcity of skilled labor is a testament to the robustness of Ireland's workforce, renowned for its flexibility, adaptability, and high levels of expertise. Graduates in engineering, science, and business contribute significantly to this skilled labor force. 

For a more in-depth understanding of the sectors witnessing talent migration, recent data as of November 2, 2022, reveals the engagement of Irish individuals in multinational companies abroad across various sectors. Manufacturing holds a significant share at 26.1%, followed by Distribution at 15.5%, Services at 56.1%, and a minor but noteworthy contribution from the "Other" category at 2.3%. This information is sourced from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and provides a valuable perspective on the dynamics of the Irish workforce and its global engagement. 

Unveiling the Lighthearted Side 

While the decision to emigrate abroad is often driven by professional motivations, there are a few personal matters that could these life-altering choices.  

Escaping the Cold: Ireland's Chilly Weather as a Motivator: The allure of escaping Ireland's chilly weather is a humorous but relatable reason for many expatriates. Tired of constant clouds and scraping ice off windshields, some individuals opt for sunnier climates in countries like Australia and Spain or Italy. The vision of a perpetual summer becomes a compelling force. 

Having an Adventure: For some, the decision to immigrate isn't just a change of scenery; it's a full-fledged adventure. Moving to a new country offers an opportunity to step outside comfort zones, embrace the unknown, and revel in the thrill of experiencing life from a fresh perspective.  

HEROic Efforts to Bring Them Home 

The quest to bring back Irish talent has sparked a big part of HERO's journey, and at the forefront stands the HERO initiative. This undertaking isn't just about reversing the tide; it's a strategic and heartfelt endeavor to rekindle the flames of talent within the homeland. 

The HERO Initiative: Strategies to Bring Irish Talent Back Home 

HERO have strategic initiatives to help attract expatriate STEM professionals. It's not just a recruitment drive; it's a narrative reshaping, offering compelling reasons to return. HERO’s initiative recognises that our talent isn't just a resource; it's an invaluable asset that can shape the destiny of a nation. Reach out to us if you want to find out more about how we can empower your business to set up successful efforts to entice expatriates back to their roots. Learn not only the art of relationship cultivation but also the strategic insights that empower companies to emulate HERO's triumphs in reclaiming valuable talent for Ireland. Get in touch at 

As the Irish STEM workforce embarks on a global adventure, it's time to reflect on the reasons behind the motivations to migrate. Is it the lure of foreign lands, the promise of better opportunities, the lack of housing or just a quest for sunshine? Whatever the reasons, Ireland's challenge is not just to bid farewell but to beckon its talent back home.  

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