Sunday 26 October 2014

Emigration once again – but where can our young job seekers go now?

It declined to a trickle during the boom years, but emigration is back on the agenda for tens of thousands of young Irish people who have recently lost their jobs.

Based on figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), at least 50,000 people are expected to have left the country by the end of this year.

Cosseted during the boom years, this generation faces a rude awakening as it competes with young hopefuls from across the world in the middle of a global economic slump.

"It is not like the old days when you could hop on a bus to London and secure a steady job in the morning,'' says Paraic Kelly, director of recruitment website constructionjobs.ie.

The United States and Britain were the traditional safety nets for Ireland's vast army of unemployed in the pre-Celtic Tiger era. When times were tough, there was usually room for Irish workers -- middle class and working class -- in enclaves such as north London, Boston and New York.

But this time around, the traditional avenues for Irish emigrants are firmly closed, according to Alan McQuaid, economist with Bloxham Stockbrokers.

"The economic forecasts for the US and the UK are very bleak. So there will be very few jobs there in the coming months.''

The young Irish are competing against many other nationalities, who previously did not have the freedom or resources to travel, including eastern Europeans and Indians.

Unless they choose their destinations carefully, they may be in danger of jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

Mr Kelly says the current climate should reinforce the importance of gaining a high level of skills.

"There are still a lot of jobs out there for people with good professional qualifications in areas such as engineering, architecture, surveying. The employers are looking for people with experience working on big projects such as building power stations, oil and gas installations.''

Mr Kelly says a generation of graduates who found it easy to find work in Ireland are having to change their outlook drastically.

"The attitude of young people coming out of college has to be: the world is your oyster.''

Australia

The most recent CSO numbers put the annual outflow of emigrants to Australia and nearby countries at 11,300. But that probably under-estimates the figures.

The Sydney-based Irish Echo reported a massive increase in Irish immigrants arriving recently.

Australian immigration authorities reported a 33pc increase in the number of working holiday visas issued to Irish people since July. Meanwhile, the number of Irish granted permanent visas has increased by 60pc.

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