20% of graduates will emigrate to find work

Ireland“ONE in every five graduates will emigrate and 90% of them do not have work lined up after college, despite the vast majority finishing their courses within the next month.

In an alarming throwback to the brain-drain days of the early ’80s, a survey of students found:

* One out of every five final year and post-graduate students is to emigrate because they cannot find a job.

* 63% are “pessimistic” about the economic future.

* More than 50% feel they have little chance of finding a job.

The survey by University College Cork’s (UCC) students’ union, based on interviews with a random sample of 339 students at UCC, Cork Institute of Technology, University of Limerick, and Limerick Institute of Technology, also found 50% of students plan to stay in education.

Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the findings were a grim reality check for claims that Ireland is still a knowledge economy.

“In one word what this crisis comes down to is jobs. What am I going to do, where am I going to go? There is a fundamental battle of ideas going on at the moment, from people who want to shrink the economy with cuts to those who want to grow it with jobs. We need to find work for graduates when they leave.

“The students in colleges across Munster should be aiming to be the generation who will lead the European project and the Irish economy in the future, but that will not happen if we are just throwing the next generation on the dole queue,” he said.

The findings come as figures from the Central Bank show the economy will shrink as much as 12% between 2008 and 2010 and unemployment will soar to about 14.4% next year.

Just a day after official figures revealed a €3.7 billion hole in the state coffers — 10 times more than the same period last year — the bank said firm action must be taken to tackle the crisis.

It recommended slashing public spending, increasing tax rates and possibly charging for free public services in next Tuesday’s budget.

In January, the Central Bank forecast the economy would fall by 4.7% this year. It said the country’s economic performance had deteriorated significantly, with a sharp rise in unemployment.

Exchequer figures released on Thursday revealed the economy was in the red by €3.7bn for the first three months of 2009.

A 23% or €2.6bn collapse in revenue, such as income tax and VAT, was blamed for the deficit by Department of Finance officials.”

[Fiachra Ó Cionnaith and Niamh Hennessy, Irish Examiner, 4 April]

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