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Recruitment agencies are now exporting thousands of construction workers they brought to Ireland in the good times. Many of these have returned to their native South Africa to fill the skills gap in the country's construction boom ahead of the 2010 World Cup, the Irish Independent reports.
Paul O'Donnell, Manager of the Construction and Property division at Hays, said "68,000 jobs have been shed in the industry and a significant percentage of these have now emigrated. When the economy recovery takes place, Ireland could find itself with a glaring skills shortage yet again."
"This is compounded by the fact that well-qualified Irish engineers have also decided to leave. It has completely done a loop around and we have got to the stage where we are trying to repatriate people we had placed here."
Mr. O'Donnell said that whilst the housing sector started to decline in mid-2007 the real turning point came 12 months later when infrastructure projects dried up.
However, O'Donnell believes that next year could be a new turning point in the Irish construction industry. He said "from talking to a lot of people in the construction industry, they believe that it is at rock bottom now and whoever is left standing is going to be standing in a few years' time."