Emigration 'draining' NI communities

Published Thursday, 21 February 2013
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The high numbers of people emigrating from Northern Ireland has had a devastating impact on communities across the region.

Emigration 'draining' NI communities
Thousands of people are leaving Northern Ireland every year. (© Getty)

They set up home abroad in search of jobs and a better quality of life, with almost 25,000 leaving the region between 2010 and 2011.

Most of those emigrating are aged between 16 and 39, and it means the average age of NI's rural villages is rising.

At least 40 people are leaving Co Tyrone this week alone, and the high rate of unemployment in the area means media graduate Megan Donnelly could be next.

She is considering moving to Australia in search of a job - and a better life.

"The temptation to go out there is very high but at the same time I don't want to leave my home town.

"It's not my first choice to leave but it looks like it could be my only choice," she explained.

Sinn Féin MLA Barry McElduff is calling for the government to address the issue of emigration and create jobs in the areas where they are most needed.

"People talk about job creation and job retention schemes. Those are great but target them at those rural communities where emigration is at its height," he said.

Phil Murray recently graduated from Queen's University Belfast with a psychology degree. The 22-year-old told UTV Live Tonight he believes there are jobs in NI for engineering and computer science.

"But for everyone else like pharmacy or business orientated jobs they are going to have to go abroad and that's just unfortunate.

"But I hope we, Northern Ireland, can come through this and start providing more opportunities, more graduation schemes for the next generation coming through," he said.

Neal Lucas is a member of the Institute of Directors and also works in recruitment. He said the opportunities available elsewhere do not occur in Northern Ireland.

But if the rate of corporation tax in Northern Ireland is reduced, then he believes global companies will see the region as a more attractive.

"We are losing people, we are losing young people, so there are lots of problems that will be created from that," he explained.

"What we want to see is reasons for them to want to come back. We want to see those big companies come here, we want to see the corporation tax lowered and we want to see world-class companies coming here.

"Also we want to see those people stay so that they can create the world-class companies, the exporting companies of the future," he added.

© UTV News
Comments Comments
Kevin in Perth western Australia wrote (709 days ago):
Anyone who reads this pack ur bags and leave I did it two years ago best move I ever made . In Perth two years saved $60,000 and having a good time yes it is expensive here yes it does get very hot to work in the summer time but no one is marching on the street asking what religion are you . It dosent rain 3 times a day and the people are nice .. So take my advise leave that sinking ship u call Ireland ...
Iseult in NI wrote (709 days ago):
Emigration to places like Australia, Canada, etc. and moving to England or Scotland to find work have always been a fact of life in Ireland, both North and South. My father (born in 1922) had 3 older half-sisters who all emigrated to New Zealand, his half-brother moved to Scotland. In later years my father and 2 of his brothers and only sister all moved to England and another brother to Scotland. My father and mother only returned to NI when my grandmother was ill, she got better and they decided to stay here. When I was growing up in the 50s and 60s there were lots of people leaving NI, mostly moving to England for work. It wasn't unusual for 2 or 3 sons to go to London or Birmingham to work and most of them stayed there, often because they met and married an English girl. And not just sons - my eldest sister and 2 friends spent a summer in Guernsey picking tomatoes, the 2 friends came back but my sister had met someone and decided to stay (they later moved to Wales, then England). This leaving NI is par for the course, it's always been the way. As for graduates, the blunt truth is there's far too many of them and a degree in many popular subjects is of little or no value in the jobs market. Some people with a degree in media studies, psychology or politics (just examples) get a job where their degree is relevant, but most don't. I know someone with a good sociology degree who's been working as a care assistant in a nursing home for the past 3 years, being paid just a little above the minimum wage. Advice to the young - if you want to go to university and then get a job, think very carefully about your choice of subject to study. There's no point in getting a First if you end up stacking shelves in Tesco.
Perth Western Australia in (Strabane, Tyrone) wrote (709 days ago):
I left home almost two years ago with my partner to set up a better life for ourselves as a result of the current economic crises. Best move we've ever made and although I wouldn't say I am here forever - we'll not be home any time soon! The opportunites available to people here are second to none especially for anyone who works in construction. Yes Austrialian people do hold degrees. However Quantity Surveying (and other courses available in Eire & UK) does not exist in Australia as a course at Uni, giving all us Irish QSs etc a bit of an advantage when applying for jobs. The mining is still booming throughout Australia and it contributes imensly to the great jobs available to all inc catering, house keeping and the wider indirect jobs associated. In saying that, you have to go looking and know where to look as nobody is going to come knocking and hand you a job. My advise to anyone who's considering making the move - DO IT. You won't regret it and if you're willing to make it work, it will!! You never fail to you stop trying... On a concluding note, many Companies out here are Global and are willing to give everyone a chance who shows interest. For example the company I am working for have offices worldwide including Dublin & Belfast.
Raven in Belfast wrote (709 days ago):
People have always left Ireland be it North or South. The chances are if you live in a rural community you will have to commute or move to a city to find work. But why is it the governments responsibility to do something. This country has to much of a reliance on the government as it is either working for it or claiming benefits from it. I would love to see people have the courage and proper support to start their own business it might succeed it might fail but have the courage to try.
Engineering Doctorate in Belfast wrote (709 days ago):
Oh, dear. What ever will we do with all the media graduates spilling out of the UK in their droves. At least it leaves room for all the hard working Poles who will be more than happy to empty our bins and service our cars. At least they are qualified to do something useful. When I was invited to give a careers talk at my university, some 25 years after graduating, I had to open with "there are three times as many of you as there were of my class and there are NOT three times as many jobs." The facts are the facts. Just because you have a degree does not mean you will walk into a job. You will walk into a debt you can't pay off. Boom. Another economic crisis looming in 5 years time. Please, don't forget that Australia also has universities and is full of Australians with degrees who can't get jobs, too. They will get preferential treatment. I think Tesco are hiring.
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