Many politicians like to espouse the pious mantra that the future of Ireland lies in its young people, without giving any serious consideration to the harsh reality that we are in serious danger of losing a whole generation of bright, talented and highly-educated youth.
A survey conducted on behalf of the Union of Students in Ireland shows that 91% of sudents are concerned about their future and 80% intend to emigrate.
The survey, which was carried out by youth marketing agency, Generation Y through their website Oxygen.ie, shows that the most common reasons students considered emigrating include better job opportunities abroad and students not being able to secure a job in their field of study.
The results of the survey are truly shocking. USI president Annie Hoey was not exaggerating when she said that if the Government doesn’t provide the younger generation with sustainable solutions to employment, accommodation and growth, we will lose a generation at the forefront of innovation, growth and advancement to emigration.
“This generation is essential to progression in the fields of medicine, science, tech and finance,” said Ms Hoey. “Without them, Ireland’s economy — which is currently the fastest growing in Europe — will slow down and subsequent generations will suffer as a result.” Was any politician of note listening to her?
Our so-called ‘free’ third-level university education is anything but, with most students taking part-time jobs and struggling financially to stay in college.
The survey also points to a direct link between the increase in college fees (which are now €3,000 a year) and the increase in those intending to emigrate — over 80% of those surveyed intend to emigrate for three or more years — more than double what it was two years ago, when a similar survey was taken.
That means that, despite our economic recovery which politicians like to emphasise is well on train, we have a forgotten generation of young people who see no real future for themselves in this country.
The USI survey echoes an international report late last year that shows Ireland to be near the bottom in a league of OECD wealthy countries, mainly because of our high rate of youth unemployment which currently stands at more than 18%.
The Price Waterhouse Cooper study warned that Ireland is losing billions of euro because it is failing to tap the potential of its youth due to high unemployment and low levels of participation in training and education.
Neither that report nor the current USI study appears to have come on the radar of any senior Irish politician, which is disgraceful.
There was a time in Ireland when being young and smart and well-educated invariably heralded a bright future but that is no longer the case. The depressing likelihood is that the current generation of Ireland’s young people will be the first to be worse off than their parents.
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