Graduate teachers face biggest test as 'lost generation' goes from scroll to dole
WHEN they started training, it was a job for life. Now there aren't any jobs at all.
All has changed utterly for the scores of primary school teachers who graduated from Dublin's Froebel College yesterday on the same day as one of the most austere Budgets in the history of the State.
When they chose their career path three short years ago, they were guaranteed permanent, pensionable jobs. Now there is a ban on recruitment.
But while the sombre shadow of our ruined economy tinged the mood of those gathered at Trinity College in Dublin yesterday, nothing could suppress their exuberant hopes for a better future.
Ailis Conlon, from Glenageary, Co Dublin, admitted that her classmates had been "feeling the pinch" since they left college. But she has no plans to emigrate and remained hopeful that she would eventually get a job in Ireland.
For the moment, she is subbing around south Dublin and planning to do her higher diploma to improve her prospects.
Darren Burke, from Gorey, Co Wexford, started work at a school in Riverchapel, Wexford, on Monday. "I'm covering two maternity leaves back to back. There is still some doubt over whether I will get the full year out of it," he said.
Mr Burke said many of this classmates were worried "but people are just getting on with it. . . In one sense, there are more unfortunate people than ourselves".
"Once you are getting a bit of subbing work, there will always be opportunities for teachers in any field," he said.
Fergal MacGrianna, from the Donegal Gaeltacht, was less upbeat.
"Our three years in college might have been a complete waste of time. . . we can't get permanent jobs," he said.
Mr MacGrianna said he was just picking up subbing work "where I can get it" and hoping that "things pick up".
But Darina Forde, from Killiney, Co Dublin, is planning to go to Sydney, Australia.
But after the recent death of a close family member, it is not easy for her to leave her parents.
Catherine McNamara, from Bodyke, Co Clare, said she "did not realise how bad it was" until she started to look for subbing work, which she gets as a "day here and there".
"We are the generation that did not really see the benefits (of the boom). . . when we started (college), we thought we were guaranteed jobs."