Abandon Ship! Students on emigration

University College Cork’s recent study of emigration trends in Ireland last week revealed that nearly two thirds of emigrants had a third-level qualification. It also showed that half of those emigrating were doing so as a matter of choice, leaving a full-time job they had here in Ireland.

This provided some food for thought for experts and journalists who lamented the ‘brain drain’ as a tragic consequence of our crumbling economy. The claim that people are leaving unwillingly as a matter of necessity is now being called into question.

Perhaps the mass exodus has more to do with the quality of jobs available as opposed to the quantity. To put it simply, young Irish people don’t want to settle for what they see as menial jobs. But in this climate, the pressure is even greater to take what you’re given and be grateful. I went in search of answers from some final year college students.

ImageHilary Pidgeon, 22

“When I graduate I’m probably going to emigrate. Maybe not permanently, I’d probably move away for a couple of years. There’s so much more opportunities in other countries like America and Canada. Some of my friends are doing jobs that are widely available in Ireland, but if they want to go far in their career they’d have to emigrate. I think it’s really bad. You’ve got your family here and your friends here. You’re basically cutting off the life you’ve built up here for twenty something years”

ImageLouise McLoughlin, 22

“I think I’m going to head straight to London after I finish. My boyfriend has already emigrated there, so that’s one reason but secondly I think there’s just a lot more opportunity especially for someone studying media. I think the majority of my friends are going to stay for the next few years at least but I think if something better is offered somewhere else they’re going to take it. People should do what’s best for them. It’s not our job to hold the country together. Why should be stick around just to stop a boat from sinking?”

ImageTessa Flemming, 23

 “When I graduate I know I probably won’t get work in my area of study so I’m just going out with a completely open mind, to experience life rather  than find a career straight away. I really wanted to learn Spanish this year, I was thinking of going to South America or Spain and just live in another country for a year. I see myself as a wanderer, so any opportunities that are presented to me I’ll definitely say yes. I think people don’t really want to leave, but they’re doing crappy jobs at the moment that don’t reflect their skills. I really don’t want to happen to me. ”

ImageBarry Lennon, 21.

“Emigration isn’t really on my radar, but I wouldn’t mind moving abroad for a while to grow as person.  I mean if push comes to shove and there is a better offer abroad perhaps, even just to get a different experience. I probably would like to return to Ireland depending on how things go. Maybe when I get my retirement and I can settle down with the wife. I’ll sell the house and buy a nice retirement home somewhere in west Cork. I think it’s bad though, the country is investing in these people only for them to go away.”

ImageSean Carroll, 21

“I’ll  head to the west coast of America for a year, hopefully with friends. I’m  getting a degree in marketing, and I don’t have any interest in working in Ireland right now with the recession strangling any chance I have!  We pride ourselves here in Ireland for having such an educated workforce, but people are getting educated here and then they’re leaving. Obviously people don’t want to leave their family and friends behind but if you’ve studied for four or five years in a particular field, it seems like a waste to stay here. If you have a degree in engineering but you have to work full time in Centra you’re not going to stay around.”

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