Emigration exodus in hope of better life
Australia and Canada top the list for many who feel Ireland cannot deliver on its promises, writes Alison O'Riordan
AS the new year rolls in, young professionals are rolling out of the country with a vengeance. For many, time spent abroad is resulting in permanent emigration with bluer skies and brighter job opportunities on the horizon.
Cosseted during the boom and now moving as a result of rising unemployment, Irish emigrants are opting for Australia and Canada over the more traditional emigration routes of the US and Britain.
With the economy having made a fast recovery in Australia and Canada in the past year, these countries are luring emigrants from Ireland. With 423,000 people out of work in the Republic the search for jobs in English-speaking countries has gone global. Emigration is due to pick up in 2010.
Larina Hayes, 28, a qualified solicitor, is one of many going to Canada to escape the recession. "I am making the best use of time available to me and as Canada has not been as badly hit as other countries, it seems the way to go. As legal jobs are quite scarce here it is necessary to look further afield for job opportunities. I have two uncles and loads of cousins over there so is comforting to know that we have contacts over there who we are sending our CVs over to. They will help us find jobs" she said.
"Having spent so many years in college studying to be a solicitor and been told that we need to get as many qualifications as possible to get a good job, now that I am fully qualified all the opportunities that existed before are gone. We were the generation that was promised so much, studied towards that belief and then when our time came the same opportunities did not exist. Ireland as we knew it had completely changed."
More than 80,000 people under 25 are out of work in Ireland so Canada looks very appealing to Larina: "Companies are hiring in Canada ... we are going with the plan of staying three years but our visas would allow us to have permanent residency."
The number of Irish moving to Australia is up by 25 per cent. Hugh McDaid from Donegal went to Australia two years ago for a year. However, two years later he intends to turn what was a temporary time abroad into a more permanent move.
"My background is in hotel management and I have found the quality of life a lot better out here so I have applied for a visa for residency. Friends back home are out of work and I suppose it's better getting two days of work over here than none back home -- and with Australia less effected by the economic slump I intend to turn Brisbane into my home for many years to come" he said.
Some 2,501 Irish nationals were granted residence visas in Australia last year, up from 1,989 a year earlier and Canada is well on target to hit 3,000 residence visas this year.
John Whelan, 27, from Dublin, has been in Australia for the past year and has applied for permanent residency. "I managed to secure a decent job and they offered to sponsor me to stay on for a four-year visa. The recession was beginning to hit back home and I thought there was nothing much for me to go back to on the job front.
"I was home for Christmas and felt the atmosphere was pretty depressing. Friends and family feel that Ireland will be in a recession for at least 12 months. Australia has just come out of recession -- why would I come home?"
Australian visa specialist Liz O'Hagan has seen unprecedented numbers contacting her Kildare offices in the past six months enquiring about remaining in Australia, and a 60 per cent increase in young people seeking to go there.
"Work is plentiful with 49 per cent gaining employment within one to two weeks of arriving in Australia" she said.