Farm Ireland

Friday 24 November 2017

Talent exodus will be norm in job freeze

Declan O'Brien

Declan O'Brien

The public sector recruitment embargo is forcing talented farm graduates to emigrate and has sparked fears of a brain drain from the sector.

One of the graduates who has opted to take up a position abroad is Sean McCarthy from Currow, Castleisland, Co Kerry.

The Moorepark PhD graduate had been working with Teagasc's dairy advisory service in Kerry but didn't know if his contract would be renewed, so he applied for a job with Dairy New Zealand. He was snapped up by the Kiwis and flies south next week.

Sean will be based in Palmerston North, in the south of the North Island, and will be dealing exclusively with farmer discussion groups.

In a practical way, Kerry farming's loss will be Palmerston North's gain.

Sean is the first to admit that he had considered travelling, but his decision to go was confirmed by the uncertainty of his contract situation with Teagasc.

"In the back of my head I always wanted to travel but the contract situation brought the decision forward," Sean said.

However, the north Kerry native admitted that the decision to move to the other side of the world had not been an easy one.

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Even so, other graduates will be forced to make similar choices as the recruitment embargo bites.

There are now real fears in the sector that a generation of graduates will take to the boat and plane over the next few years.

The implications for Teagasc and Irish farmers are obvious. As one Teagasc advisor put it: "We're educating and investing in our brightest and best so they can go and work with our competitors."

Given the current economic realities, it is clear that some sort of control on public sector employment is essential.

But a blanket jobs embargo is a blunt instrument, and the cost of such drastic action will be the loss of talented youngsters such as Sean McCarthy.

All we can hope is that they return.

Irish Independent

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