'I'm so fed-up ... I'm moving to Spain and I may not return'
Bright, outgoing, eminently qualified and bursting with ambition, Eimear Phelan will be a huge loss to this country.
Frustrated by the lack of employment opportunities, the 23-year-old DCU graduate is packing her bags and moving to Spain, where she has landed a teaching contract.
And right now, she doesn't know if she will ever come back.
"I started studying economics for my Leaving Cert in 2008 when the crash hit, and it was terrible to then end up in that society," says the young journalist who finished her degree last year.
Despite her love of home, the Galway girl sees no alternative after a 12-month battle with unemployment, internships and precarious jobs working in an ice rink and going door-to-door as a charity sales assistant.
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"It's been really, really hard. Employers say they need three years' experience for every entry-level job, but how can I get experience if nobody will take a chance on me?" she says.
Eimear says her generation are competing with their parents for the same jobs.
"Not only are we new graduates competing in a new field, we're also going up against people who got let go or took redundancy. It's just so many more people, some with incredible levels of experience, competing for such a small number of positions," says Eimear, who describes her parents as of the "squeezed middle-class".
"We don't have the luxury of a dependable income, so we can't buy cars or get loans, and I know some people are illegally renting, so there is no security for us."
Although Eimear has never taken out a loan, she has a jaundiced view of graduate bank accounts.
"There are no benefits, it's just a name, an excuse to be able to charge you for more stuff. It's like they just want us to be indebted to them for ever," she says.
She also stresses that young people are worried about asking parents to act as guarantors on their loans, as they will face huge repercussions and penalties if they lose their job.
"I'm moving to Spain because I got this great opportunity. The options I have here are to take an unpaid internship part-time to get a foot in the door," says Eimear.
"There could be a future for me here some day, but right now I don't see it."