To Be Honest: I give in – there’s no reason for a postgraduate to stay in Ireland

A budding emigrant writes . . .

Light-bulb moment: ‘The folks are great but I’m the youngest by some distance, and they want me out of their hair’

Light-bulb moment: ‘The folks are great but I’m the youngest by some distance, and they want me out of their hair’


I’m a 24-year-old university graduate with a postgraduate qualification. I’ve been out of work for more than a year, which includes six months on a JobBridge scheme. I’d love to stay in Ireland with my family and friends. But it’s time to go.

Last week I heard on the radio about a young man who’d been advised by his social-welfare officer to consider emigrating to Canada. Was he being an insensitive bureaucrat or was he showing enough compassion to tell the truth?

I did reasonably well in my menial six-month placement, but there weren’t many opportunities and I don’t think they were ever seriously considering keeping any of us on.

After last week’s budget, in which the dole for under-26s was cut again, I reluctantly accept there’s no place for me in this country.

Ministers lined up for interview after interview, with angry and upset people ringing in to give them a piece of their mind. Lots of annoyed young people. My friends who don’t normally give a hoot about politics are talking about it, face to face and in Twitter rants.

The politicians never deviated from the well-worn script. Not a one. “Ah, yes, but economic sovereignty lost, budgets had to be cut, young people don’t have any costs and they all live with their parents at the age of 25 and 26, and it will get them into training and work-placement schemes.”

They didn’t acknowledge that huge numbers of these people are college educated, often to postgraduate level, and that we don’t need any more training. There are no jobs to train for.

They didn’t address the fact that many of the people they are targeting may have gone to college, as I did, in Dublin, coming from outside the capital. I had a life there; my friends and my girlfriend are there.

I’ve had to move home to Wexford because I couldn’t afford to live on the dole in Dublin. The folks are great, but I’m the youngest by some distance, and they want me out of their hair. They shouldn’t have to support their 24-year-old son. Some of my friends don’t get on with their parents. They are grown-ups and need space.

In the meantime, this budget has also hit Fás apprentices for college fees. They are generally from poorer or working-class backgrounds, where money is particularly tight. Some of them just don’t have the money for fees, so they won’t even be able to do a basic apprenticeship.

I know, I know. Sacrifices. Economic sovereignty. Nearly there. Worst is over. On the road to recovery. Don’t disincentivise investment with taxes for high earners. Insert another platitude. I’ve heard it all before. None of us has any hope that we have a future here. The only thing I can now do, for my own sanity and sense, is emigrate. That’s the message we’re getting, so, okay, Ireland, I give in. I’ll go. I’ve got friends in Canada. They say they’re never coming back.

This column gives a voice to people in the education system.

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