The current scale of emigration from the Republic of Ireland means action is imperative, according to the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI). The organisation met with politicians at an Oireachtas briefing in Dublin today (29.05.13) to call for more to be done to support young Irish emigrants both before they leave and in preparation for when they return.
Presenting the recommendations from a recently published NYCI report on youth emigration ‘Time to Go?’ Marie-Claire McAleer, senior research and policy officer at NYCI stated:
“Over the past 2 years over a quarter of our population has been affected by the emigration of a close family member and one in two of our 18 to 24 years olds would consider emigrating themselves. We need political direction and a new policy response to emigration which meets the needs of young people currently facing the prospect of emigration.”*
Recommendations as a result of this report include:
Give an existing Minister responsibility for emigration policy and for responding to and connecting with the Irish abroad.
Government should develop and implement a strategy for emigrants.
Fund an existing agency that operates in the Republic of Ireland to provide assistance to prospective emigrants intending to emigrate.
Ensure centralised data collection on emigrants to inform the development of a policy response.
Launch a campaign to promote foreign languages at second level and third level education.
Department of Social Protection, and Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to collaborate in the creation and maintenance of a portal site which would function to map and direct the user to existing websites providing information at a local level.
Promotion of Internships, Work Placements or Employment Opportunities Abroad.
“Following the high level of interest in the report, we were delighted with the invitation to attend this Oireachtas briefing. It’s a valuable opportunity to share ideas and keep the issue on the agenda. We now look forward to further engagement with politicians and policy makers, in order to make the recommendations in the report a reality,” said James Doorley, deputy director at the NYCI.
The National Youth Council of Ireland is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of 54 voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.
*Source of figures: NYCI Poll conducted by Red C, October 2012. 1003 interviews were conducted and 931 of those interviewed were Irish citizens providing a sample error of + or – 3%.
Based on and informed by the research and consultations with young emigrants, NYCI proposes 7 recommendations it considers important to implement in order to adequately and appropriately meet the needs of young Irish emigrants.
The recommendations are categorised under the headings:
Policy recommendations for Government.
Practical support measures to respond to the needs of prospective emigrants and/or new emigrants,
These recommendations, if fully implemented, would help to support many young Irish emigrants who are considering emigrating or who have already emigrated to be as prepared as they can be for the challenges they may encounter as emigrants.
Policy Recommendations for Government
1. Appoint a Minister with responsibility for emigration policy and for responding to and connecting with the Irish abroad.
The research highlights the need for Government to ensure that greater connections are made and sustained with young Irish people who are leaving the country at the present time. There are a number of tangible ways of doing this which Government need to consider. Emigrants suggested one way of responding to the needs of the Irish abroad was by appointing a Ministry or Government Department to respond to and connect with the Irish abroad.
This Ministry would have responsibility for the development of a long-term strategy to attract emigrants back to Ireland when the economy recovers and for policy planning to respond to the needs of returning emigrants in the future. The department would have specific responsibility for ensuring long-term planning in the development of public policies, responding to the needs of Irish emigrants, and liaising with key public employment services to facilitate return migration to fill gaps in the Irish labour market as they arise in the future.
2. Develop and adopt a strategic approach to meet the needs of young Irish emigrants.
Government needs to develop and implement a strategy for emigrants. The strategy requires an action plan, and the necessary supports to take account of the diversity of needs and provide structural supports at home to provide information and assistance to young people who are emigrating. The strategy and action plan needs to include ways of incentivising Irish emigrants to return to Ireland when the economy recovers.
It is vital that Government invests in a strategy to attract emigrants back to Ireland in the medium to long term to fill gaps in the Irish labour market. Government must also plan for returning emigrants in terms of the future provision of social services and facilities.
3. Fund an existing agency that operates in the Republic of Ireland to provide assistance to prospective emigrants intending to emigrate.
As profiled in the report the existence of a centralised one stop shop to support emigrants (in the form of I/CAN) was found by emigrants in Canada to be of tremendous value. Many felt that such a resource would have benefited them greatly had it been available in Ireland prior to their departure.
NYCI calls on Government to fund an existing agency in Ireland to provide assistance to prospective emigrants. The agency would offer advice and support services for Irish people intending to emigrate. It would function to assist emigrants by providing them with information on everything from accommodation to health care, insurance, and visa advice. It is envisaged it would help potential emigrants to link into agencies and networks in the country they are emigrating to. The agency would also provide help and support to emigrants to prepare for and resolve any potential problems they may encounter in their host country in advance of their departure from Ireland.
4. Centralised Data Collection on Emigrants
To date there has been an absence of reliable data on who is emigrating and where they are emigrating to. Such data collection and profiling is integral to future policy planning and the maintenance of good links with our citizen’s aboard.
The UCC study ‘emigre’ promises to generate data on the profile of contemporary emigrants including their age, educational qualifications, profession, emigration destination, and intention to return to Ireland. As NYCI’s research reveals such data is essential to inform the development of policy to respond to the issue of emigration.
NYCI recommends Government uses the ‘emigre' data to inform the development of a policy response to emigration, and supports the continuous collection of data to profile and track emigrants from Ireland.
5. Launch a campaign to promote foreign languages at second level and third level education.
Launch a campaign to promote foreign languages at second level and third level education to enhance the skill set of Irish people and equip them with the linguistic skills to compete nationally and internationally. Such skills would make Irish employees more attractive to employers from non-English countries.
Practical support measures to respond to the needs of Prospective Emigrants and/or New Emigrants
6. Department of Social Protection, and Department of Foreign affairs & Trade to collaborate in the creation and maintenance of a portal site which would function to map and direct the user to existing websites providing information at a local level.
The research identified the need to provide more information via the World Wide Web to support and facilitate young people to access essential information on internships or work opportunities abroad.
Given there are already many websites and social media pages which provide very good information on employment opportunities, advice and tips on interview technique, and contact details for support organisations abroad, NYCI believes there is a need to assist young emigrants to access these sites via a website portal. The portal would ensure the user could easily navigate through the website portal to access the information on their intended destination.
In the event that there is inadequate information available for a country, the Department of Social Protection, and Department of Foreign affairs & Trade should address the information deficit by supporting the creation and maintenance of a website for that country.
7. Promotion of Internships, Work Placements or Employment Opportunities Abroad.
The research highlighted that many young emigrants were not aware of existing opportunities in relation to internships, work placements or employment opportunities abroad. Many felt that there was limited promotion of such initiatives in Ireland and suggested that prospective emigrants would benefit from such knowledge prior to their departure from Ireland.
The Department of Social Protection currently advertises opportunities of this nature available in Ireland. NYCI recommends that they extend such advertisements to include the promotion of internships, work placements and employment opportunities abroad through the use of national newspapers, universities or institutes of technology or through other forms of social media targeted at young people. An example of a good way of disseminating such information to young people is through the development of an application containing relevant information on opportunities abroad that could be downloaded for free.
National Youth Council of Ireland
3 Montague Street, Dublin 2
T: 01-478 4122
The National Youth Council of Ireland is the representative body for national voluntary youth work organisations in Ireland. It uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.
Registered Charity No. CHY 6823. Company No. 588214.