No more plain sailing for grads

By Conor Dempsey

The Union of Students in Ireland estimates that there are 100,000 unemployed graduates in the country at present. Gary Redmond, President of the USI, and Nikolai Trigoub-Rotnem, President of Trinity Students’ Union, have both condemned government inaction on the issue of graduate unemployment and emigration.

The USI launched its awareness campaign in August on the Jeanie Johnston, a replica famine ship. Last week, the USI also officially renamed the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Innovation; it will now to refer to Batt O’Keeffe’s department as the Department of Unemployment and Emigration.

According to preliminary figures from this years Higher Education Authority report What Do Graduates Do, just 43 percent of graduates from the class of 2009 had found employment nine months after graduation: a decrease of nine percent on the previous year. The percentage of graduates from the class of 2009 looking for work is seven percent, which is down two percent on last year. However, Sean Gannon, Director of the Careers Advisory Service, has warned that there may be a masking effect due to the large increase in the number of graduates going on to postgraduate study. Redmond notes that many graduates are simply emigrating and finding work in Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

A comparison with Careers Advisory Service figures specific to Trinity graduates shows that this college fares slightly better than the national average, with 45 percent graduate employment compared with 43 percent nationally for the class of 2009. The proportion of primary degree graduates from the Trinity class of 2009 going on to postgraduate study is 42 percent, up 15 percent on the same figure for the class of 2008. This compares with a national figure of 43 percent, up nine percent on 2008.

Redmond, the USI and TCDSU have called for a graduate internship program to allow unemployed graduates to gain work experience. The USI argues that “the Government would already be paying social welfare benefits for these unemployed graduates but would now benefit from the increase in GDP brought about by an influx of new graduates into the labour market”.