Ireland has a serious problem: many of its young professional talent are leaving the country. With only a population of 4.8 million, it needs every bit of manpower and expertise it can gather from its people. However, the number of Irish emigrants are still clocking in by the thousands, albeit comparatively lower than previous years. More people are coming in from abroad while 16,200 nationals aged 15-24 are moving to foreign shores, as reported by the Irish Times.
The Irish diaspora is a well-documented phenomenon since the medieval ages, which soared after the Great Famine. The poorest and the hungriest left for the England or the US. Modern concerns range from increasing housing costs and scarce employment opportunities, especially for its younger generation.
In 2016, the Jobseeker’s Allowance was reduced, amplifying the ongoing struggle of the young and unemployed to make ends meet and the unemployment rate at the time was 15.4%. Housing costs in Ireland are also one of the highest in the entire EU. It’s not uncommon for single thirty-somethings to still be sharing a small flat with a roommate, and the majority of the tenants in the country are millennials. After the recession, more jobs have been made available but not enough offer decent salaries to tempt young professionals into staying.
For many, leaving Ireland is a not out of choice, but as a necessity borne out of hardship. The healthcare system in particular is experiencing a shortage in staffing with nurses just fresh out of school choosing to pursue their career elsewhere. Vacancies are not the issue, as Irish nurses get higher salaries and better working conditions abroad. The Irish Nurses and Midwives Association took their issues online with hundreds of nurses, midwives, and staff voicing their concerns about the delayed pay and less than ideal working conditions of local hospitals. Many are lured by the overall quality of life abroad while some only choose to stick around out of fear that the country will run out of medical professionals, especially when the need becomes dire.
The same holds true with other fields, as the majority of Irish professionals are looking for opportunities outside of the country. Some international corporations have set up regional bases in the country which is good for attracting young professionals. However, some employees eventually move to the US or mainland Europe to advance their career working in the same company.
Remote work is also a viable career option that appeals not just to the Irish but all young people in general. Sarah Holden, who identifies herself as a ‘digital nomad’, left her cramped apartment in Dublin to make money while seeing the world. She wrote in an article for the Irish Examiner that blogging is where she generates most of her income and her office can be anywhere she wants it to be. But the life of a digital nomad also has its drawbacks. For one, life on the road can be rough, especially for those who easily get overcome by homesickness. There is no fixed salary and it is a lifestyle that might not appeal to those who seek stability. But if you are internet savvy, Lottoland notes that online work can be lucrative provided that you have acquired enough skill to offer prospective employers. Aside from blogging, graphic and website designers, writers, and social media managers are constantly in demand, especially in the digital age. And like Holden, there’s also the bonus of travel opportunities.
There is no way of knowing if young Irish professionals are better off emigrating, and whether they do is completely up to them. Whatever the reason, Emigrate 2 previously offered tips on finding employment abroad which highlights careful consideration of the country of your choice. Some leave the country never to return again because of factors out of their control, but many just want to sample different cultures and opportunities at the cusp of adulthood, before permanently settling back down in Ireland.