Australia beckons for young jobseekers
Over 1,000 posts on offer to graduates
DECLAN Peters spent six years at college in order to qualify with a masters degree in civil engineering.
But despite that, today the 28-year-old, from Bansha, Co Tipperary, has been out of work for two long, frustrating years. Disillusioned by his fruitless search for employment at home, Declan is preparing to emigrate for a second time, having previously tried his luck in America.
Yesterday, his job search brought him to a recruitment fair at Limerick's Strand Hotel where he joined hundreds of other jobseekers to learn about opportunities on the other side of the world.
Like Ireland, the state of Western Australia is also facing a jobs crisis, but of a completely different kind.
Thanks to a boom in its mining and petroleum industries, and with a major shortfall in qualified labour, the Australian government needs to fill more than 100,000 positions by 2017 for development projects worth €81bn.
The government and a host of private companies are seeking qualified Irish workers to immediately decamp to the Australian state.
The audience at the recruitment fair heard details of more than 1,000 jobs on offer. Half are in the healthcare sector, with salaries for nurses and midwives starting at between AUS$50,000-AUS$80,000 (€37,000 to €59,000).
Another 500 include engineering positions and trades including electricians, fitters, construction workers and mechanics -- many starting at AUS$80,000 (€59,000).
Unable to even afford a day out to watch his county play at this weekend's Munster hurling final, Declan is intent on winning one of the positions on offer.
"I worked with Fehily Timoney in Cork, but I haven't worked in two years. I spent six years in college, got my masters and came out to nothing really. I went to New York for three months, but all I could get was three weeks' work -- nothing solid," he said.
"I'm home a few months -- helping the father on the farm. I've sent my CV around, but heard nothing back. I'll definitely head away.
"I can't see myself coming home -- there is not a thing for me in this country. My parents paid for me to go through college and look where I am now -- back living at home.
"None of our parents want us to go, but they understand we have no alternative. I'd like to be able to give back to them, but at the moment I can't."
Leona Fawl, who emigrated to Australia from Limerick two years ago, was back on home turf on behalf of TR7, the recruitment firm behind the jobs fair.
The process of applying for a job, securing it and having your employment visa processed can all happen very quickly, she said.
"People can be working within six weeks. We are recruiting here because a shortage of skills sets there," Ms Fawl said.
"There are 25,000 Irish people living in Perth and the initial employment visa is for four years."
To secure the necessary visa, known as a business or long-stay visa, all applicants needed a degree or recognised qualification in a chosen field, preferably with four years' experience, Ms Fawl explained.
Health and character criteria must be met and sufficient funds in a bank account are also required. The average salary for qualified workers in some parts of Western Australia is between AUS$120,000 and AUS$160,000 (€90,000 to €120,000).
Ciaran Quinlan (22), from Castleisland, Co Kerry, was accompanied to the recruitment event by his father, Gerard. He has just completed a degree in construction management at the University of Limerick and his older sister, Karen (26), is about to move to Perth to work as a junior doctor.
"Opportunities are better in Australia -- better money and experience. If I'm earning good money and have a good job, I'll stay there," Ciaran said.
Gerard said he would love to see his children stay at home.
"It's a sign of the times that we are going through -- we are going to lose a generation or two of our best and brightest," he added.