How many Irish graduates are planning for emigration?

London cityscape

Is London calling for Irish graduates?

Nearly 6,000 thousand students have voted for their favourite employers in Ireland’s largest annual student survey, conducted by the international research firm trendence. The detailed results will be published in September in Ireland’s 100 leading graduate employers which is distributed to every campus in Ireland.

But the survey does far more than identify Ireland’s most desirable employers. It also reveals a lot about the aspirations, hopes and fears of the current generation of students and graduates and one issue, in particular, seems to be much more of an issue in Ireland than it does over the water.

Students were asked if they planned to leave the country after graduation to secure a job in their chosen field. In Ireland, 27 per cent of respondents said yes, they were planning to leave. In comparison, only 19 per cent of students in the equivalent survey in Britain said that their first job would be abroad. When you analyse the data more closely, there are also significant differences between sectors. For example, only 17 per cent of Irish students looking to work in accountancy expect to leave Ireland after graduation while for those hoping to make a career in construction, the figure is 37 per cent.

The survey results reflect, of course, the delicate state of certain key sectors in the economy at the moment. But it’s also worth noting that of the 24 European countries that take part in the annual trendence survey, Irish students are at the top of the league for job mobility, so even in good times a significant proportion would want to leave after graduation. At first sight, therefore, the data suggests a potential ‘lost generation’ of Irish graduates who are forced to emigrate. Yet, in reality, it’s always been the case that many graduates begin their working life abroad – only for large numbers of them to return later in their careers. The trend has accelerated this year but it’s not the crisis that some commentators believe it to be. In an increasingly connected and international world of work, the greater geographical mobility of Irish graduates is worth celebrating.

Of course, it’s not all good news. Many graduates don’t actually want to leave Ireland but, for some, maybe it’s a step they have to take. Hopefully, the economic situation will stabilise soon to allow everyone who wants to go to do so, and to provide those that want to stay with enough jobs in the sectors they favour.

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