The brain drain continues…

It might just be me but there doesn’t seem to be the same old frisson between Gregory Campbell and John O’Dowd, as they do an impersonation of pre Chuckle brothers production. Malachi O’Doherty questions several parties’ tactics of using ministerial offices to get favoured sons and daughters into Westminster. Interesting piece on the migrant graduates that leave for England. According to Reg Empey 26% leave NI (including the Republic), and 1/3 come back. Of those remaining a further 10% will leave after graduates. Protestants are still leaving at the rate of 2/1. He flags up research due on that before the end of the year. He wants to attract graduates back, with most graduate jobs stacked up in the public sector, accessing high quality private sector jobs is likely to be the real question…

  • slug

    The “and 1/3 come back” is on graduation. The figure does not include those that come back after getting some experience outside NI. The migration data does show quite a lot of people (students and otherwise) moving back from GB to NI (in fact more people have moved from GB to NI than in the other direction for the last few years).

    The 26% leaving NI figure is interesting. Previously I thought it not unreasonable to expect people to want to go to experience a bit of the world, and I retain that view but….

    Its interesting to compare NI in this respect with the NE of England, a region which is similar to NI in some ways. The recent FT special supplement on the NE of England noted that the NE region experienced a large net inflow of students (e.g. to Durham University from the south, Newcastle University from NI, etc.) many of whom stayed after graduation. So that is a big benefit to that region, and NI should think in terms of reducing the net outflow of UG students. The way to do it will be to enhance the experience of being a student in NI and that may require thinking about the kind of image and product the local universities offer.

  • willowfield

    Protestants are still leaving at the rate of 2/1

    Does that mean 2 Protestants leave for every 1 who stays … or 2 Protestants leave for every RC who leaves?

  • slug

    PS I have looked at these figures over time and the 1/3 coming back is an increase from about 1/4 that was seen in the 1998. However it has remained stuck at 1/3 for the last 5 years with no sign of change.

    PPS There is an interesting trending downwards of NI students going to Scotland…more are opting for England. Is this because the 4 year degree is not so appealing when you pay student fees?

  • slug

    “Does that mean 2 Protestants leave for every 1 who stays … or 2 Protestants leave for every RC who leaves?”

    The latter I think. Some somewhat sloppy presentation of data in that piece by Mick.

  • Pete Baker

    “It might just be me but there doesn’t seem to be the same old frisson between Gregory Campbell and John O’Dowd, as they do an impersonation of pre Chuckle brothers production.”

    Well let’s ask the questions again that Noel Thompson failed to get an answer from John O’Dowd, about the march for half-truth.

  • ND

    As a graduate who has spent almost all my professional life beyond I find these figures interesting but not a source of any concern.

    In our new europe and with the increasing globalisation it is natural that many of our young people go abroad. I wish themall well and hope that they can be proud of where they come from and do the place and our people proud in return. It is through there abilities that many willform positive views of who we are.

    As for a brain drain I would be interested in how many graduates we attract here with no connections to the place? Perhaps we have yet to develop to the extent that we attract people with these skills here?

    As for protestants leaving at 2/1 does this in any way represent the east/ west split? As a catholic from the west I saw Belfast as the chance to escape that all 17 year olds want. Is it just a case that young protestants see crossing the water as a way of getting off to pastures new? If I grew up in Belfast I’d have been more likely to push off.

    Also, take it from melife gets in the way of the move back home with “foreign” partners and all the rest but be they catholic or protestant the prospect of starting a family has us all looking for the route home in my experience.

    Bad and all as the place is with all our problems, it is not a bad thing to say about a place that you’d like to rear a family in it.

  • Mick Fealty

    Done on the hoof Slug… I was copying verbatim from the exchange… My apologies… I had a very short night the night before and was ready for bed…

    I also think Reg said that the Equality Commission was going to conduct the research. It seems to me that finding out why people leave and what might bring some of them (some will just prefer life in Silicon Valley) back is crucial.

    Also, what is the differential in the return rate between those who go south and those who go east. During our unionist research, one hardline Unionist MLA told us that he’d prefer his daughter to go south to uni, because there was a greater chance she’d come home. Not sure that’s borne out in any real figures, but it’s a perception that’s out there.

    It would also be interesting to find out what organisations like Invest NI are doing on this. A couple of years ago, a London based friend from Belfast convened a lunch for successful (some of them very successful) SME business people who felt they might have something to offer in terms of a support network for start ups at home.

    But as everyone there was over thirty, by the end of lunch (in a very nice Ulster owned gastro pub in Hoxton) the guy from Invest NI dismissed the idea, saying that the people involved were outside the young graduate target area.

  • Suilven

    Well, as part of the 2/3 rds of the 26%, I have say RE has hit the nail on the head. It’s the relative dearth of graduate-level private sector employment, compared to other parts, and the fact that some fairly large and important sectors of modern economies (like financial services) are underdeveloped to the point of virtual nonexistence that’s the problem.

  • IJP

    Sir Reg blah blah blah blah…

    But what is he actually planning to do about it?

    He’s the Minister – what proposals is he bringing forward?

    There’s more to government than “commissioning research” and “calling for a review” into things we already know about!

  • Nevin

    I understand centres of tertiary education here now collect statistics on the ‘community background’ of students from Northern Ireland. Have any been released and does the intake reflect the background? If not, ought there to be a Patton-style approach or other measures to redress the balance?

  • Dev

    Speaking as someone who is a recent graduate and who has left the old country to live in London, I think the reason so many graduates are leaving is the lack of suitable jobs. Wages are too low and there isn’t a great variety of job types. Plus NI can be a pretty depressing place at the best of times.

    ‘(in a very nice Ulster owned gastro pub in Hoxton)’
    Posted by Mick Fealty on Sep 28, 2007 @ 06:47 AM

    What’s the name of the pub?

  • Scotsman

    Low wages and high house prices- why stay?

  • willowfield

    Slug

    “Does that mean 2 Protestants leave for every 1 who stays … or 2 Protestants leave for every RC who leaves?”

    The latter I think. Some somewhat sloppy presentation of data in that piece by Mick.

    That would coincide with my non-evidence-based impressions. I wonder, though, what the go/stay ratio is in terms of (a) school-leavers within each community; and (b) graduates (from local universities) within each community? Do such figures exist? To get a true picture of the demographic effects we would also need to know the figures for returners.

    ND

    As for protestants leaving at 2/1 does this in any way represent the east/ west split? As a catholic from the west I saw Belfast as the chance to escape that all 17 year olds want. Is it just a case that young protestants see crossing the water as a way of getting off to pastures new? If I grew up in Belfast I’d have been more likely to push off.

    I think that’s fairly accurate. I was brought up in Belfast and Newtownabbey and went to university in Scotland. Most of my peers left for GB, too. The numbers in my (grammar) school who went to QUB or UU were small (possibly the smallest group after those going to uni in GB and those going straight into the workplace). When coming home during holidays, though, and socialising with my QUB friends, it did appear to me that most of the (Protestant) students seemed to come from the West. (And judging by the amount of Gaelic paraphernalia being self-consciously worn and carried about by QUB students, it would seem that most of the RC students were from the West, too.)

    I also think there are cultural reasons. For Protestants, brought up in a unionist community, going to university in England or Scotland is considered fairly natural – moving from one part of the country to another, in the same way as someone from Bristol, say, might go to Manchester University. I suspect that for RCs, going off to England or Scotland might seem like more of a cultural leap and therefore proportionately less appealing.

    Perhaps connected to this, when I was leaving school in the late 1980s there was definitely a “chill factor” about QUB, which was perceived to be dominated by nationalists and republicans. I don’t know if this has changed since.

    Finally, if my school was typical, there was definitely a subtle “encouragement” by teachers and school hierarchy for pupils to go off to England and Scotland. I got the impression that my school considered it prestigious to be shipping lots of kids out of NI.

  • kensei

    “As for protestants leaving at 2/1 does this in any way represent the east/ west split? As a catholic from the west I saw Belfast as the chance to escape that all 17 year olds want. Is it just a case that young protestants see crossing the water as a way of getting off to pastures new? If I grew up in Belfast I’d have been more likely to push off.”

    Not 100% sure. While people did go away, there was kind of an attitude at our school anyway, that University means going to Queen’s and getting a house with your mates. I found most people moved after graduation.

  • slug

    At my school it was definitely encouraged to apply to Oxford, Cambridge, LSE, Imperial and argued that here you would get the highest quality education and most stimulating experience.

  • “For Protestants, brought up in a unionist community, going to university in England or Scotland is considered fairly natural – moving from one part of the country to another, in the same way as someone from Bristol, say, might go to Manchester University.”

    I think you’ve hit the nail on the head there.

    If You’re British, and going to college in Britain, what’s the big deal?

    I wouldn’t discount the snob factor of sending kids to the motherland either. (Effect a Hiberno-Oxbridge accent) “Of course old Blighty provides a much better class of education than one would get in the native institution, my dear boy” etc.

  • al

    Sir Reg blah blah blah blah…

    But what is he actually planning to do about it?
    — IJP

    Watched the interview myself and had a good chuckle as a graduate myself the year before last now home in a low paid job, albeit related to my field. His ideas seemed to revolve around “researching”, “making websites” (Why?) and “having stands at job fairs” (thanks for that reg)

  • IJP

    al

    Precisely.

    The “brain drain” apparently took anyone who knows anything about actual governance out of NI!

    The whole point of devolution is local politicians who know the local issues. So stop bloody “researching” and “reviewing” and start DOING!

  • al

    I myself will be applying for emigration to Canada soon. Whether I succeed is uncertain and the wait is long regardless (up to 4 years) but even I don’t succeed this time i’ll apply again with more experience and more points which will get me there next time.

    There’s nothing to keep people in their early 20’s in NI these days unless you enjoy getting paid less than your counterparts anywhere else in western europe but still love paying £250,000 for a house the size of a garden shed.

  • Aquifer

    The cheap housing and beautiful countryside probably kept a few more able people about here than the opportunities and cultural life would warrant. Now watch our elected members spot the countryside with expensive bungaloids and cut arts funding.