NEW ZEALAND is the latest English-speaking nation to announce tighter access to its skilled work visas, after the US and Australia announced similar restrictions on immigration.
These decisions are likely to have an impact on the lives of young Irish people, particularly students who use temporary working visas to gain experience abroad as they make the transition from college to working life.
Australia said it would abolish a temporary work visa popular with Irish people and replace it with a new programme requiring better job skills. The Irish quota for the Canadian working holiday programme has nearly been reached so the choices for Irish students seeking to work for a few months abroad appear to be limited.
Really? How about going on a working holiday to one of our EU neighbours? That would, of course, require at least a basic knowledge of a language other than English.
Perhaps we should adopt a ‘Europe first’ approach and embrace our EU membership in a real, practical and tangible way. Even before Brexit, German is the dominant language of the EU, spoken by more than 90 million people. After Brexit, only Ireland and Malta (a combined population of barely five million) will be native English speakers. It is about time our younger citizens got with ‘der Programm’ and learn the first language of Europe – even if all they can manage is a throaty “ich liebe dich”.
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