It's too depressing to stay here, says Oz-bound electrician
AFTER 12 months out of work, Brendan Balmaine, above, is one of thousands of Irish people planning to leave the country and head Down Under in the new year.
Having worked as an electrician since 1992 with only a few weeks here and there without work, Brendan was made redundant a year ago after the company he was with lost its key contract and had to let staff go.
Despite an intensive job hunt and getting top marks in a FAS smart homes course, Brendan -- from Santry in north Dublin -- said he can't see any prospects in Ireland for years to come.
Because he's 40, heading off to far-flung destinations on a working holiday visa is not an option, so he's currently undertaking the laborious process of getting a skilled migrant visa for Australia.
Even when that's complete, it can be quite complicated to get his Irish qualifications accredited to allow him work as an electrician in Australia, but his union, the TEEU, is helping to resolve that so he can get to work sooner when he gets there.
Brendan said that as a keen Dublin supporter he will miss GAA matches, but the death of his father earlier this year means he doesn't have the same close family links to keep him here any more.
"It's a challenge but I could not do any worse than I'm doing here. At least there's plenty of work out there, you can see how busy it is, they have to put projects off because they can't find enough people to work," he said.
Brendan said the lack of structure for someone used to working hard was incredibly depressing.
"I've put on four stone being unemployed and I just could not take another year of this. When I was doing the FAS course I had to be up at 5.30am to get across to Loughlinstown for 8.30am every morning but I didn't mind because it gives you some routine.
"I don't think the Government has a clue what it's like for people. I can't see any improvement for another five years at least," he said.
"I don't see what else I can do because it's too depressing to stay."