Why Irish youth are migrating – an interview with Amy Kwok

New York skyline by night - photo credit Konstantinos Dafalias (Flickr)
New York skyline by night - photo credit Konstantinos Dafalias (Flickr)


Interview conducted in November 2013


New York skyline by night - photo credit Konstantinos Dafalias (Flickr)
New York skyline by night – photo credit Konstantinos Dafalias (Flickr)

Irish youth has increasingly started to migrate as many have decided to go elsewhere for career opportunity’s as Ireland’s economy has fallen and opportunities have run dry. Amy kwok a graduate of UCD who studied BA arts politics and sociology joint major had many things to say about this as it is a topic she is familiar with.

Many students search for new opportunities as they leave college for example Amy a graduate of UCD of four years desires New York “ the land of opportunity’s” as she is planning on moving there for a year in hope of finding work.  She said “I’m moving for better work experience and to live in the capital city of the world”. Amy’s official plan was to do a masters in UCD but decided not to as it would be too costly. Traveling abroad can be very tempting for many young Irish graduates as they feel that there is nothing in Ireland for them once they graduate. “Many of my friends have moved or are planning on moving. Some are going to Japan, Hong Kong, New York, Denver and especially Australia” Amy confesses. This is due to the Irish economy as it went downhill in a spiralling disaster as the banks invested most their loans in properties which later caused banks to declare bankruptcy causing the economy to follow. This then causes many job losses and decreased the source of income for its population.

Amy Reveals “In Ireland the lack of potential networks makes it increasingly difficult to gain access to the opportunities abroad”, this could be because of the lack of resources we have in Ireland or it could possibly be because the government are not releasing enough information of the benefits of migrating for people as it will be an unbeneficial activity for the country. In a world recovering from the economic crisis, Ireland in a desperate attempt to recuperate has put all its resources in a basket of agricultural and science. Amy thinks that “we are less driven by business and economics as our country is hugely based on agriculture and science”. This may be true but that’s what our country is good at so why not keep doing it. Instead what we could and should keep doing is build on what we don’t have such as get more job opportunities for graduate students. This would be helpful for when they leave college so they know there is another option for them so they won’t choose migration as a first choice and still focus on our agriculture and science as that’s what Irelands good at.

Amy worked her way up in Hollister.co into a managerial place but later handed in her notice as she felt she had studied for so many years and it would be a waste to not use her knowledge in a workplace that needs it. “I feel that if I stay I won’t be doing my degree justice by working in a clothes shop although working with Hollister.co helped me become the person I am today .I know that I need to get work that doesn’t just do my degree justice but that also helps me develop intellectually therefore the reason for pursuing a life abroad . Ireland does not have much for me here at this moment in time.”

To be eligible to move abroad as a student you have to have completed a degree, Visa and have a graduation cert and in the first year after their graduation they may travel. This is a very small time frame students are given to take a year abroad in such places as America. “Once you get there you must find a job related to your field of study or you will be deported.” Amy states. She tells me that the ciee keep tabs on graduates that are travelling abroad and that they do not help in any way all they do is look over you to make sure you’re working in a field that you’re qualified for. When asked how she organised her new life she replied “I got in contact with many travel agencies and they told me about all these different programmes and organisations ciee being one of them. I then chose where I wanted to go which was easy as I have many friends who have migrated to New York who have strived in their work,” Her plan is to find a job as quickly as possible as she would like to stay for as long as possible and if she gets sponsored she may stay for even longer.


Plane landing on a runway
More and more Irish people are considering employment outside the country (Photo credit Kuhnmi – Flickr)

“Ireland should provide more opportunities, work experience, in career training and in all areas free or at a reasonable price.” Amy’s says if these things were more widely available she wouldn’t need to pursue a life somewhere else. To promote Ireland they should do it as a growing country of business bringing in more international companies into the country. This would mean students would no longer feel the need to travel abroad to gain these experience and opportunities. It would be more readily available, enticing and way more stimulating.

When asked what she thought it would be like coming home she replied “I think I’ll end up travelling again to another country as I would have experienced a level of opportunity in an environment that encourages high expectations. It would be incredibly difficult to settle for anything less.” Once Irish youths leave the country they have no desire to come back as other countries have better weather, job availability and income. Not only has it been the youths but since the recession many families have migrated in search of a better life as many people have no source of income here. The recession has acted like the “Famine” causing many of Ireland’s population in search of a better life to America, Australia and many more. They move to these countries not necessarily because they want to but because they need to in order to survive and to support their families as well as themselves.

This could result in a potential brain drain in Ireland, leaving unskilled work to be the main career. This would be resulting in giving Ireland a weak workforce causing Ireland to go back in time in the growth of its workforce. The potential of other opportunities abroad could ultimately result in becoming Irelands down fall in the future. This will lead to Irelands newest generation to migrate leaving the old generation behind.

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