Return migration plan vital, in context of upturn in economy
165,300 young people have emigrated over the last 5 years, conference told
Home is where the heart is – A conference on return migration from a youth perspective –
With the economy starting to show signs of recovery, it is time for Government to consider strategies to facilitate return migration in the future. That was the message emerging from Home is where the heart is – A conference on return migration from a youth perspective, which took place in Dublin Castle today (16.09.14).
The event – organised by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) – was opened by the new Minister for the Diaspora, Mr Jimmy Deenihan, TD and explored the barriers to young emigrants returning to Ireland; supports needed to facilitate young emigrants to return and the components of a strategy to facilitate return migration.
Speaking at the event, Marie-Claire McAleer, NYCI Senior Research and Policy Officer said it was welcome that a conversation about the realities of emigration has been started. Ms McAleer stated: “The appointment of a new Minister of State for the Diaspora provides the opportunity for the political system to respond in a practical and sensible manner to the issue of youth migration and has the potential to enhance and sustain the link between Ireland and its emigrating youth.”
The conference heard that in the year to April 2014 an estimated 33,500 young people aged 15-24 emigrated* and that the numbers of young people who have emigrated over the last 5 years is 165,300.
Reflecting on the numbers of young people who have left, and continue to leave the country since the start of the recession, Ms McAleer stated that: “a strategy to facilitate and support young people to return in the future, when there are jobs in the Irish Labour market is essential. It is also vital that we foster closer ties between Ireland and its emigrants.”
She added that “substantial work remains to be done to stem the tide of young people having to leave Ireland at present and to provide the opportunities for them to return in the future.”
Young people and industry bodies highlight barriers to return
The event brought together experts and representatives of industries most affected by the recent wave of emigration, including speakers from Construction Industry Ireland, the Irish Nurses and Midwives Organisation and the Association of Secondary Teachers, Ireland.
The conference also heard from young people living abroad who spoke about the barriers they faced in seeking to return to Ireland. Some of the key deterrents identified included:
Precarious working conditions and poor salaries
Lack of career opportunities and limited career progression options in Ireland
Lack of affordable quality housing
Minster voices concern at loss of innovation and creativity through emigration
The Minister for Diaspora Affairs, Mr Jimmy Deenihan, TD congratulated the National Youth Council for organising the conference on return migration.
Speaking at the conference Minister Deenihan expressed his concern about “the loss of the youth of the country” and how, through emigration, we “lose their innovation, their creativity and their capacity to challenge established norms and ideas”. He went on to say that “It is vital that we encourage as many of these back to Ireland as possible. We need their fresh thinking”. Minister Deenihan indicated he wants to be part of the conversation about return migration and is committed to improving the Government’s communications with young Irish people overseas.
Social and economic cost of emigration
NYCI’s Ms McAleer also warned of the social and economic implications of losing a significant proportion of the population’s young people to emigration if these young people do not return, and stated that “in the context of a more competitive global market, we can no longer assume automatic return of migrant workers will happen organically”.
Ms McAleer concluded by stating that she hoped the outcomes of today’s conference would help to inform and influence the development of public policy on the diaspora.
FOR LIST OF YOUNG EMIGRANTS (BASED OVERSEAS) AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW CONTACT: Daniel Meister, Communications Manager at NYCI on 087 781 4903, 01-478 4122 or e-mail email@example.com
NYCI is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people. www.youth.ie