Ciara Kenny

The Irish Times forum by and for Irish citizens living overseas,

Half of would-be emigrants have full-time jobs, survey shows

Some 44 per cent of those surveyed at the Working Abroad expos last week were over the age of 30

Would-be emigrants queueing for information at the Working Abroad Expo in Dublin.

Mon, Mar 11, 2013, 10:55


Ciara Kenny

Almost half of those who attended the Working Abroad fairs last weekend were already in full-time employment, but two in three cited dissatisfaction with their career prospects as one of the main reasons for considering emigration.

Researchers from University College Cork’s Emigre project surveyed more than 500 would-be emigrants at fairs in Dublin and Cork last week, 73 per cent of whom said they were thinking about moving abroad in search of a job or work experience.

Some 44 per cent of those surveyed were over the age of 30, and 14 per cent were 40 or older. 22 per cent of the total had mortgages on properties in Ireland, and 27 per cent had children.

“Holding over 500 questionnaire returns, banal as they look, is a way of looking at over 500 lives. There is something infinitely poignant about many of these documents, charting, as they do, lives in transition,” said Emigre project leader Piaras MacÉinrí.

“There were some very angry people, but a smaller number of hopeful and happy ones. Men in their later 40s, and even older, looking abroad, some for the first time. It seems many families who returned to Ireland in the good times are now leaving for a second time.”

Of those surveyed, 17 per cent were working part-time and 22 per cent were unemployed, “demonstrating that unemployment and underemployment were significant push factors”, Dr MacÉinrí said.

Construction-related occupations featured strongly, with 21 per cent of those surveyed working in the industry, followed by health-related professions at 14.9 per cent. Nursing was the most common profession in this group. Those involved in finance, retail and education were also well represented.

Exactly half of all respondents had a third level degree or higher, and three-quarters said they intended to leave Ireland in the next six months.

The survey forms part of a major research project at UCC exploring the trends of current emigration. Using census data, the team are carrying out a national household survey, as well as an online survey and in-depth interviews with emigrants abroad.

Interested participants who have left Ireland since 2006 are asked to fill out their survey online. For more information about the project, see or read Piaras MacÉinrí’s Generation Emigration article about it.