Looking beyond the professions
Will the post-Celtic Tiger recession finally kill off the Irish love affair with the professions? Ever since a Catholic middle class first emerged in the 19th century, bright students were steered towards the professions, particularly medicine, law, teaching and, more recently, accountancy.
For more than a century-and-a-half, the professions guaranteed social prestige, high incomes and job security. This ensured that bright students, often encouraged by their ambitious parents, opted overwhelmingly for the professions.
While bright students could hardly be blamed for making what was for them a rational choice, this bias towards the professions was much less beneficial for the country as a whole.