'We're being incentivised to stay on the dole'
Graduates are incentivised to stay on the dole, claims recent graduate Mark Duffy.
The 23-year-old from Ballina says young people are "stuck between a rock and a hard place" when it comes to securing a decent job with lasting prospects.
He says the cost of learning how to drive and getting a car is another barrier.
After completing his business degree at the Galway Mayo Institute last year, Mark (right) - the second youngest of 13 children - said his "most realistic options" were emigration or the Government's JobBridge scheme.
"I wanted to get into marketing or management, but they always look for experience, which is something that you usually don't have when you are a graduate," he says.
After his parents invested tens of thousands in his education, Mark says they would have faced another year of outlays to cover "sky-high" rents in Dublin, Galway or Cork and food costs if he had taken up an internship.
Mark refused to put a further financial burden on his family. He and three friends decided to go travelling instead.
"There's no comparison with the opportunities in Australia compared to Ireland. Five days after arriving in Perth, we all landed well-paid jobs," he says.
Four months ago, Mark returned home to Mayo and is surviving on social welfare of €100 a week.
Although he is proactive in applying for jobs, playing GAA and soccer and volunteering as a youth activist with the National Youth Council of Ireland, he thinks going back to college is his only way forward.
"I'm almost incentivised to wait nine months on the dole and then go back as a mature student, but afterwards my education will probably mean more abroad," he says.