The Union of Students in Ireland (USI) said that the recent HEA survey results showing that 65% of those surveyed are now in employment, while 82% of these are still in Ireland, reflects the value of investing in third level education.
 
Almost 18,500 graduates responded to the HEA survey, with only 10% of those surveyed having to emigrate for work. This compares to 12% of those emigrating in 2013.
 
USI President, Kevin Donoghue, said that the HEA survey results hows lots of positive trends in the Irish job market, such as a reduction in those forced to emigrate to secure employment, and an increase in graduate employment. However, he highlighted the need to tackle poor employment practices such as zero hour contracts and unpaid internships.
 
“It is a poor state of affairs when we have people with third level qualifications earning less than the living wage. The living wage should be standard across the board, but we have graduates in the work force earning much less. Schemes like JobBridge allow for the exploitation of skills, talent and knowledge and should be abolished immediately and replaced with fair wages for fair work,”  stated Donoghue.
 
The survey also showed that Arts and Humanities graduates are the least well paid graduates, with 25% earning less than €13k. In comparison Computer Science/ICT Honours graduates are the highest earners, with 62% of such graduates earning €29k or over.
 
There also seems to be a direct correlation between education and salary, with an individual's salary expected to increase in correlation with their level of education. The survey showed that 49% of Honours Bachelor Degree graduates earn under €25k, with this dropping to 9% among Doctorate graduates.
 
“Overall, the HEA survey shows some positive trends,” said Donoghue. “It shows that the majority of 2014 graduates are either in employment or in further study or training. There is a reduction in the numbers forced to emigrate for employment and the growth in the Irish tech sector is proving to be a huge employer for Irish graduates.
 
There is also an increase in overall employment for graduates – up to 76% in 2014 from 73% in 2013. However, while these are all welcome trends in employment for Irish graduates, the Irish government is playing with fire by under funding third level education," he added.
 
“Higher education has been the can that successive governments have kicked down the road and we have reached the end of that road. The time has come for a properly publicly funded higher education system. Irish water has dominated talks around the next government. However when third-level has become impossible for all but the wealthiest in our society no one will thank us for spending months on end talking about taps,” Donoghue concluded.