A diverse multilingual and skilled labour force will make Limerick a more attractive location for global investment, according to a new five year integration plan for the region, published today.
A principle aim of the report - 'Belonging to Limerick: Limerick City and County Integration Plan 2018-22' - is that voices of migrants who have made Limerick their home is at its heart.
The report compiled by the Limerick Integration working group identifies asylum seekers and refugees , EU and non EU migrant workers and international students as the migrant population.
It identifies equality of access to education, language resources, and public services like welfare, health , housing and policing, as well as cultural awareness and anti racism as strategic themes to develop diversity and multiculturalism for migrants over the coming years.
The 2016 Census identified over 18,000 non Irish nationals living in Limerick, the bulk of them from Poland and the UK at 30%, and from the other EU 28 countries at 14%.
Limerick internationally is now an intercultural city and the University of Limerick has become a University of Sanctuary, and there is a bigger population of international students attending its third level colleges .
The report says the city needs to focus on the advantages and opportunities of diversity.
Migration is good for the economy, addressing skills shortages and adding flexibility to the labour force.
The census also showed that the bulk of the migrants living in the city - over 80% - were of the working age from 15 to 65.
The Chair of the Limerick Integration Working group and National Director of the Jesuit Refugee service in Ireland said the focus now needs to be on diversity advantage rather than cost.
Eugene Quinn said that too often the narrative focuses on the challenges and costs of integration, but migrants perceive themselves as assets.
"Migrants bring innovation, language skills and a new way of thinking, and this plan is part of the desire to achieve that" he said.
He said there is a leadership challenge for Limerick City and County council to ensure that the strategies to promote integration under this five year plan are fully implemented and adequately resourced.