According to the Irish Times, the demand for college places has risen dramatically this year. The Central Applications Office (CAO) has already received 16,000 applications as per the beginning of January (a 14 per cent increase as of the same time last year).
This comes as no surprise, as many students and potential graduates see now as the ideal time to further their education in the midst of our current job slump. This is on one hand, a very good thing as a solid degree will not go unnoticed by potential employers.
Even with their excellent qualifications, thousands of our graduates are now forced to venture overseas thanks to the lack of opportunities here.
It used to be a given, that once you completed college, you could stay at home to set up your career. Times have certainly changed.
A new survey ‘The Forgotten Generation’ gives us a rather grim insight into the difficulties faced by young jobseekers today. The survey, taken by The National Youth Council of Ireland, revels that more than 58,000 people under 25 will emigrate over the next year.
The research consisted of one-to-one interviews with 90 young jobseekers, all of whom agreed that the prospect of securing rewarding employment in Ireland was not very good.
Financial hardship was highlighted frequently and contributed to a sense of frustration particularly in relation to social welfare when applications are taking months to process.
Youth council assistant director James Doorley says that the services provided by FAS (which now has a year long waiting list) and the Department of Social Protection are uncoordinated, over-stretched and are not geared toward the needs of young people.
I asked some students to tell me what their options were once college was over:
Sarah from DIT says she thinks leaving will be her only option: “I’m so annoyed that I’ll have to leave to find permanent work. It’s frustrating to find that after all your years of hard work, there’s nothing here for you.”
Sean from DBS says it could be better in the long run: “You get to see more of the world, gain new experiences and meet new people. The way things are over here now, I don’t really see any point in staying.”
And if you aren’t keen to travel, how might you go about securing a job? Internships are very popular now.
I’m going to take an example of Graduates with Media backgrounds here, though this will apply to others too.
Internships or work placements are now seen as the way toward securing a job placement, especially if you have a Media degree (as experience is everything) but how fair is it really? Certainly some do secure permanent jobs after but the flip side is that many work for weeks on end with little or no pay for all their hard work only to be in the same position once their current internship is over.
And I’m sure all graduates can relate to this in some way. Yes, it’s great and important to gain more experience, but many of these must you do before your deemed suitable to be paid for your skills?
“I’ve done a few Internships now”, says Amy, a former Media GCD student. “I do think they are very important and its great to gain more skills and experience which will benefit you in the long run (your filled CV will help you secure more interviews) but I think it’s very unfair to say that your inexperience should mean you get paid nothing. It’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. If it’s good enough to be printed, you should be paid without question.”
Think of the positive as well though, the more experience you have, the better it looks to potential employers. You’re adding to your skills, which is always a good thing. And if you have everything their looking for, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be paid for your work. Many employers use internships to see if candidates are really suitable and a lot will offer further job opportunities for you.
While it seems that it is easy to just focus on the negative, think of what positive assets and skills you have to offer to employers and try to stay focused. My advice to anyone like myself, who is fairly new and trying to get established, is to be persistent and take advantage of any experience you might get offered. The more confidant you are in your own abilities, the better.