IRELAND IS intensifying its campaign to recruit skilled construction workers from around the world to carry out its £14bn infrastructure spending plan.
The FAS, the Irish government's training and employment agency, is wooing staff from as far afield as Canada and South Africa. Last weekend, the organisation held a Jobs Ireland roadshow in London to attract UK workers.

Construction companies based in Ireland are also seeking labour from abroad, independent of the FAS scheme. Caroline Herlihy, an Ireland-based recruitment consultant at Hays Montrose said: "Over the past year, we have recruited from Russia, Poland, South America and Hong Kong. We are looking for white-collar professionals, everything from architects to engineers."

The investment in infrastructure includes £4bn on roads, £1.8bn on rail and public transport, £4.8bn on 35 000 local authority homes and £1.6bn on hospitals.

FAS spokeswoman Gillian Mulcahy said the Irish brain drain of the 1980s had contributed to the crisis. She said: "There are not enough people graduating from the universities around the country and a lot of employers want people with experience, which graduates don't have."

The Jobs Ireland initiative, which is supported by Ireland's Construction Industry Federation, is part of the FAS' wider efforts to encourage foreigners to consider employment there. Launched in March this year, roadshows have stopped in Canada, the Czech Republic and South Africa.

During a four-day tour of Cape Town and Johannesburg last month, nearly 35 000 applications for all sectors of the economy were received.