Irish government officials are expected to sound out major contractors about work in Ireland when they attend a seminar in London today on public private partnership deals.

Senior Irish civil servants from the Taoiseach’s Department and the Finance Department will address directors from companies such as Laing, Costain and Amec about the opportunities in Ireland, where a £17.6bn National Development Plan will be rolled out over the next six years.

The Allied Irish Banks capital finance division will offer PPP expertise.

Colin Adams, executive director of the British Consultants Bureau, which is organising the event with British Trade International, said: “We believe it represents a major step forward in enhancing partnerships between major construction companies in the UK and Ireland. More than 160 decision makers from major contracting and consulting firms are expected to attend.”

The Dublin government knows that Ireland’s booming market has fully extended the domestic workforce. It is hoping to import 10 000 construction workers from the UK and the rest of Europe over the next five years.

Ireland’s Construction Industry Federation expressed fears about the prospect of large UK companies coming over to manage major projects without bringing labour and plant resources.

Federation director of manpower development Peter McCabe said: “Obviously there are sensitivities.

“What we don’t want is a couple of UK directors signing up for the work and then coming over here to hire. That would just make the labour shortage in Ireland worse.”

However, he added that the CIF would ask the government to parcel projects into small packets to ensure that Irish companies would not be left out.