207. Deputy Billy Kelleher asked the Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation the annual targets for attaining 70,000 returned emigrants as per the A Programme for A Partnership Government commitment in tabular form; and the progress to date. (Question 19617/18 asked on 08 May 2018)

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation (Deputy Heather Humphreys): The Government’s goal is to support the creation of an additional 200,000 jobs by 2020, including 135,000 outside of Dublin, and to attract back at least 70,000 emigrants. The whole of Government effort to deliver on these objectives is supported by the annual Action Plan for Jobs.

The CSO estimates that between April 2016 and April 2017, 27,400 Irish emigrants returned to Ireland. As the economy continues to grow and the economy approaches full employment, this trend is likely to continue.

Since the first Action Plan for Jobs was launched in early 2012, there are almost 346,000 more people at work bringing total employment in the State to 2,225,100 (as of Q4 2017). My Department and its agencies have a range of initiatives to connect with Irish emigrants (and others) to outline the careers and entrepreneurial opportunities in Ireland. These include:

  - IDA Ireland actively promotes Ireland as a location for new investment and Enterprise Ireland has specific targets to attract entrepreneurs to Ireland with a focused marketing programme underway in international markets.

  - Since 2016, my Department has funded TechLife Ireland- a partnership with Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the Irish Technology industry - to promote and brand Ireland as a top destination to pursue a career in technology and attract top tech professionals to Ireland. Industry is playing an important role in supporting the initiative and driving its development.

  - Science Foundation Ireland encourages leading researchers to move to Ireland raising Ireland’s profile as a location for research excellence and career advancement. For instance, SFI awards two Saint Patrick’s Day Science Medals to distinguished Irish scientists, engineers or technology leaders living and working in the USA: one academic and one from industry.

Finally, I would emphasise that ensuring a continued focus on attracting foreign direct investment and maintaining and improving competitiveness is critical to attracting talent back to Ireland.