Government failing to address emigration, youth organisation claims

Half of all 18 to 24-year-olds have considered moving abroad, poll finds

The Government is failing to adequately address youth emigration or support the needs of young people leaving the country in search of work, the National Youth Council of Ireland has said.

A study Time to Leave published by the council has found many young emigrants are struggling to secure work, access healthcare, find a place to live or open a bank account abroad because they are leaving Ireland unprepared.

The research, carried out with focus groups of Irish people aged 18 to 30 who moved to Britain and Canada in the last two years, found emigrants were also experiencing stress over finances and intense homesickness, despite having Skype and other communication methods to keep them in touch with home.

“Many of the young people said they lacked sufficient information about some of the challenges they were going to face when they moved abroad,” said the council’s senior research and policy officer, Marie-Claire McAleer, who conducted the research.


"A lot of them felt that once they left, no one cared, and talked about a need for ongoing support."

Job opportunities
The council has called on the Government to fund an existing agency in Ireland to provide information on visas, accommodation and job opportunities in other countries for prospective emigrants before they leave.

The report also recommends the appointment of a dedicated minister responsible for emigration policy, who would develop a long-term strategy to attract emigrants back to Ireland when the economy recovers.

The council's deputy director, James Doorley, said that while the experience of moving overseas has been a positive one for most people, the majority plan to come home eventually and supports should be in place to allow them to do so.

“It shouldn’t be the case that once they leave the airports here in Ireland that they are forgotten about,” he said.

Of the 308,000 people who left Ireland in the four years to April 2012, two in five are aged between 15 and 24.

Considered emigrating
A poll of 1,003 Irish people carried out by RedC on behalf of the council found one in four have had a close family member emigrate in the last two years.

Half of all young people still living in Ireland aged between 18 and 24 have considered emigrating themselves, while four out of 10 adults aged 25 to 34 have thought about moving abroad. Some 41 per cent of those considering emigration said they would leave because they are currently unemployed, while a further 43 per cent said they would go because job opportunities were better elsewhere.

When asked whether the Government was addressing the issue of youth unemployment adequately, 83 per cent disagreed, while 85 per cent said not enough was being done to tackle the problem of youth emigration.

Ciara Kenny

Ciara Kenny

Ciara Kenny, founding editor of Irish Times Abroad, a section for Irish-connected people around the world, is Editor of the Irish Times Magazine