Northern Ireland greatest challenge is the loss of the best of our next generation…

In Northern Ireland we have many problems to contend with going into the future. We have sectarian tensions and a government that now seems to be in a permanent state of paralysis when it comes to dealing with issues like parades.

However there is a wider problem that has not being given enough attention and that is the increasing number of our people that are choosing to leave Northern Ireland.

Since the economic crisis hit in 2008 we have been in the grips of a recession. The lack of jobs has forced young people in particular to leave our shores for places like Australia and the United States.

We often consider emigration to be a problem that mainly impacts the Irish Republic, but the figures show that the droves of young people leaving our shores does not stop at the border as 25,000 people left Northern Ireland in 2011 alone. Just to put that in context that’s 74 people every single day choosing to move.

It doesn’t take a Stormont press release to tell you that this trend is still going on. I am still constantly hearing about people leaving as they cannot find work and seeing the Facebook invites to emigration parties.

This is truly amazing when you think that we achieve some of the best exam results in the UK and have two excellent universities. Yet despite all of this, we allow huge numbers of our graduates to leave and put all of that talent into developing cities and regions thousands of miles away.

I’m not suggesting that in all cases emigration is bad thing. Sometimes getting out and seeing the world can really help a person gain perspective on the career that they want to pursue. Although we have to reconcile ourselves to the fact that most surveys have shown that people who emigrate from Northern Ireland do not come back.

You have to ask yourself why? Why is it that when people go off to foreign shores they can’t see a future back home? What is it about our economic strategy that fails to secure enough high paying jobs that can keep people here? These are just some of the questions that those of us here and more importantly our executive need to be asking themselves.

A few weeks ago Alex Kane got into some trouble for encouraging those who got their A-level results to leave Northern Ireland. However I think he has done us a favour by opening up this debate.  When we think about the turmoil we have experienced from the flags protests to the riots over the summer it is probably remarkable that more people aren’t leaving.

I’m not writing this to simply engage in pessimism about the future. Rather I’m trying to highlight that our failure to create a more normalised society and a more prosperous economy is forcing thousands of people to emigrate.  We cannot pass the buck onto the British government for this as it is the failures of our own government that are driving this trend.

I’ve often written that Northern Ireland will sink or swim on what we choose to do here. We need to stop persisting with an economy and a society that encourages 20,000 plus to leave our shores every single year. Emigration may not be headline news but there is a real problem going on right now.

Instead of pandering to those who make a lot of noise and seek to create havoc on our streets, our executive should just pause for a moment to think about those who quietly make that journey out of our province and perhaps develop a strategy that might entice them to come back.

  • Charles_Gould

    David

    Thanks for the blog post. I think its an interesting topic.

    I do think you are a little cavalier about the statistics.

    You quoted a gross figure for numbers emigrating without considering immigration. Also: I am not sure if you mean international or intra-UK migration.

    The figures published yesterday by NISRA for 2012 show that *net international immigration* to NI was POSITIVE: more people moved to NI from outside the UK than moved to outside the from NI.

    In fact since 2001, there has been positive net international immigration to NI in every year apart from 2011. Some 30,000 more people over this period came to NI than left.

    The immigration is greatest in the 18-24 age group; the emigration greatest for the 24-34 age group.

    Now lets turn to migration to GB from NI.

    For the 12 years 2001-2012, the figures show that in 9 of these there was positive net immigration to NI: more people came to NI from GB than left.

    It is true that in the last three years the net migration to rest of UK has gone negative: I am sure this is for economic reasons, as the NI economy has sufffered more than GB’s and there are jobs in London to be had.

    Overall the statistics for last year are:

    Inflows from GB: 10,333
    Outflows to GB: 12,090

    International inflows to NI: 148,981
    International outflows from NI: 118,051

    Total inflows to NI: 289,419
    Total outflows from NI: 253,510

    Overall migration: 35,909

    Thus, 35,909 more souls were attracted to our shores last year than left.

    I believe migration is 95% economy and 5% society. People follow the money and opportunity.

    When the economy ticks up again, expect more inward migration.

    Bottom line David: the premise of your post is not very factual!!!!! People are coming here even in bad times, and more will come in good times.

    Finally: we are a small region. You have to expect a lot of in- and out- flow. The smaller the region, the more people move in and out.

  • Charles_Gould

    Oops I made a transcription error! The bottom part of the above post is should read as follows:

    Overall the statistics for last year are:

    Inflows from GB: 10,333
    Outflows to GB: 12,090

    International inflows to NI: 12,922
    International outflows from NI: 12,480

    Total inflows to NI: 23,255
    Total outflows from NI: 24,570

    Net total flows: -1,315

    Thus, only 1,315 more souls left our shores last year than came.

    I believe migration is 95% economy and 5% society. People follow the money and opportunity.

    When the economy ticks up again, expect more inward migration.

    Bottom line David: the premise of your post is not very factual!!!!! People are coming here even in bad times, and more will come in good times. The net outflow last year was only about 1300.

    Finally: we are a small region. You have to expect a lot of in- and out- flow. The smaller the region, the more people move in and out.

  • aquifer

    Why do we fatten intellect for export when we need smarter mechanics and creative freaks? A defensive paranoid Unionism too often leaves this place a poor imitation of provincial Britain, and Nationalists label it a failed state that owes them. The dominance of central public sector jobs deadens the place with cynicism, loads us down with low risk low reward public investment, and provides incomes and job security that the private sector cannot hope to match, while driving up house prices to ensure young people cannot afford to stay. Houses used to be cheaper here than GB.

    It does not have to be this way. Why should a public sector job be for life or full time, or with automatic salary uplifts?

    We should stop forcing ourselves to fail. We live in a wet cold country so make shelter cheap. We make good music so why so few rooms large enough to hold an audience? Why build roads when so many cannot afford cars?
    Why work 9 to 5 when much of the world is asleep?
    Why kill young people by shutting pubs all at the same time, and kill jobs by insisting that pubs are few and huge?
    Why not collect the rates due from the owners who keep properties empty?

    If young people want to see the world, loosen immigration policy, open some colleges, and have the world come to us. What else to do with all those empty houses?

  • Charles_Gould

    MICK: if you’re reading this perhaps you could edit my two posts into one, deleting the bottom part of the top post and replacing it with the corrected version that I put in the second post. Ta.

  • Red Lion

    “”These are just some of the questions that those of us here and more importantly our executive need to be asking themselves.””

    The executive is utter delinquency on a loop. Party interests are way ahead of any general Northern Ireland interest. An opposition is needed to try and kickstart democratic scrutiny of what the DUPSF carve up fail to produce and what they continue to destroy. I believe calling for an opposition to promote a semblance of functioning assembly is a central plank of NI21 thinking.

  • Charles_Gould

    Red Lion: your ability to relate this to NI21’s policy of opposition reminds me of the following Chinese saying: “to a kid with a hammer the world seems like a nail. “

  • David McCann

    Charles,

    1) Can I sincerely thank you for such a detailed response. I always appreciate somebody giving a considered response so many thanks.

    2) The figures I quoted were from a BBC and UTV report on the same day about a year ago. The figures were so startling that I jotted them down.

    3) When the Irish government looked at the issue of emigration in 2002 it found the trends were nearly always the same in both NI and ROI. Which I can believe as we too have had a big decline in construction.

    4) I bring up the issue as I’m a young man. I’m well skilled and I have to honestly say I cannot find a job in Northern Ireland. My friends who like me are well skilled could not find work in Northern Ireland and left.

    5) The reason I used so little stats in my post was deliberate because when we relegate this debate to X figures v Y figures it distracts from the real problem that people who I know for a fact did not want to leave had no choice as they couldn’t find work here. That is a real problem for the future.

    6) PWC have looked at this issue in the past and found that emigrants from NI unlike their southern counterparts typically don’t return. We celebrated Leah Totton and Rory Mcilroy recently-what’s the common denominator with both of these people? They don’t live here.

    This isn’t being negative but I have literally seen too many parents in tears are farewell parties for their children to hide my head in the sand over this issue. That;s why I raised it and that’s why I feel it needs to be addressed.

  • Charles_Gould

    David

    But, if about the same number of people are coming to NI than leaving, is there really a problem?

    Before you put this down to Eastern Europe types, coming to work in food processing factories, note that migration to and from GB are about equal.

    I take your point about not being overly statistical; but can you accept mine that lack of stats makes for a less informed discussion.

  • David McCann

    There is if the people leaving are really well skilled and predominantly young.

    For example 10 ppl are leaving ROI every hour, I refuse to believe that just suddenly stops at the border. I’ve been trying to find out whether those who are leave from NI on an Irish passport are included in those stats.

    But can I tell you there is a real problem; when people who don’t want to leave, have to because they cannot find work.

  • Charles_Gould

    David

    No I think those emigration figures that are published are just for ROI. Their unemployment rate is double ours, I believe.

    The figures for NI were published on the NISRA website yesterday:

    http://www.nisra.gov.uk/archive/demography/population/migration/Net_Mig1112.xls

    The emigration figures are:

    To GB:

    2009 10,198
    2010 11,279
    2011 11,121
    2012 12,090

    To outside UK:

    2009 21,604
    2009 23,394
    2009 25,218
    2009 24,570

    So there has been an increase.

    Caveat here: migration figures seem to be prone to error.

    David, I would agree with you on lack of skilled jobs.

    And I would agree that NI needs investment in a wide range of businesses.

    It could also grow its universities. I gather from your profile you are a PhD. Well, if Stephen Farry (Minister) would remove the cap on student numbers, and educate more of our students at home, then we would create a lot of jobs in research and lecturing at higher education level – professors etc.

    To do that, to make that affordable, requires a slight increase in student fees though, or a switch of resources from some other areas of the Executive’s spending

  • Charles_Gould

    Anyhow David, just wanted to say I like your writing so please do keep blogging here!

  • PeterOHanrahanrahan

    Whither Am Gobsmacht? This is his pet grievance.

  • derrydave

    Has it ever been any different for NI ? If we put aside the civil service then the number of high-quality, graduate level jobs in Northern Ireland for ambitious and talented people are very few and far between. The pay is also extremely poor in comparison with both Southern Englend and the Republic when you can find a decent job.
    I would love nothing more than to return to live in Derry, however I understood and accepted pretty much from the day I left that this was and never will be an option unless I get very lucky and find a suitable job which will of course pay about 30-40% of my current pay, and which will have very limited opportunities for advancement. I am 38 years old and NI has always been like this in my lifetime – a complete basket-case of an economy. If we didn’t have the civil service can you magine what NI would look like ?? Honestly, it would be third-world !

  • Red Lion

    Charles G, that made me laugh out loud, in a good way.
    Well, we can’t hope to solve or improve much in NI until we get a functioning system of government. Only then do we stand a chance. Aquifer related to the dependence on public jobs as deadening NI, well the DUP/SF stitch-up paralyzes it.

    Getting an opposition into government has the potential to give everybody a kick up the backside and awaken NI from its partially-self-choosing slumber. An opposition has the potential to some extent to breathe new life in NI. Our dysfunctional government infects all aspects of life in NI, it is all linked and spills onto how young people view NI and the reality they face. Better accountable government is a start to turning NI around instead of us all, young people included, being stuck with the feeling that there is absolutely nothing we can do to improve things. I see NI21 as the only attempt to at least try and shake up the miserable political NI landscape and everything else that flows from it.

  • “the loss of the best of our next generation…”

    Brook Edgar from Coleraine High School is just one example:

    An outstanding result of 4 A* grades was achieved by Brook Edgar who has been accepted to study Physics and Astro Physics at the prestigious University of Michigan. This is an excellent achievement as this American university has a highly competitive admissions system and will also enable Brook to receive elite rowing coaching in preparation for the Olympics in 2016. … Save CHS on Facebook

    About half of her top performing CHS contemporaries are going to St Andrews, Swansea and Liverpool and the other half to universities here.

    Meanwhile the North Eastern Education and Library Board is up to very questionable behaviour in its restructuring of post-primary provision in the Coleraine area, behaviour that is largely going unreported in the mainstream media.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Someone rang m’lord?

    I have nothing to offer JG in terms of stats and figures, I’m afraid I can only go by my own experiences and what I’ve seen (“yawn”)

    As relieved as I am to hear that there is a steady flow of talent into NI I’m afraid there is one factor that isn’t addressed by this new population.

    Inwo, there is an imbalance caused by this exodus of talent/skills/work ethic/whatever that can’t be solved by (purely for example) an influx of talented Eastern Europeans.

    Boringly (or irrelevantly) I have to use anecdotal examples.

    I know of literally of dozens of Protestants that went to Britain for further education and didn’t come back (my own household included thus far).

    Imagine if you will, the POTENTIAL difference that could be made some of them returning:

    2 brothers I know, one with a phd in mathematics are pipe bandsmen. They try to return for the 12th when they can but it’s obviously more and more difficult.

    As such a rural pipe band, comprised of South Derry Protestants no longer has the potential dissenting voices that could be offered when blethering sessions turn to flegs and politics.
    Hence the hardened attitudes of such an ensemble of men are passed down to the next generation, untarnished by Bohemian ideas such as ” maybe putting up lots of loyalist flegs in mixed/Catholic areas might NOT be a good thing to do”.

    Another 2 brothers I know, one a former engineer at NASA and the other a teacher in S Korea are sons of a well known local Loyalist.
    Their views have softened since they left and heads are butted with father when they return home as the old dog won’t learn any of these silly new tricks.
    Were they to return and even re-join’ the band’ for every 12th then again we have the potential for a less hardline viewpoint to be represented within the band that might be attractive to those who have doubts about aspects of Loyalism but don’t have the courage to voice such concerns in front of their peers (including my lily-livered self, it was only with their physical back up I could argue to Loyalist dad that a United Ireland MIGHT have some advantages to Protestants – a foolish thing to say as the man can still throw a decent punch).

    A former school mate of mine (studying phd in Oz) played for every decent Loyalist band in South Derry (bar Dunamoney, thankfully). It wasn’t his studies in political philosophy that thawed his views.
    His return to the area would be a breath of fresh air and again another pole that some might gravitate towards.

    When I come back I fully intend to try and add a bit of Scottish-gaelic flavour to my local Ulster-Scots group (though understand that failure is inevitable given my poor-man’s-Unionist-Cassandra-Complex and lack of personality).

    There are too many examples of talented people (I DON’T include me in that group!) who would act as a restraint of sorts within the Protestant/Unionist community were they to return as they could stand on their Orange/Loyalist CV to make themselves heard as opposed to the easily ignored middle class tut-tutting Unionists who have little or no influence.

    Alas, the very problem they could help alleviate is the one that guarantees that they’ll stay away.

    Good Post David

  • Charles_Gould

    AmG

    “Inwo, there is an imbalance caused by this exodus of talent/skills/work ethic/whatever that can’t be solved by (purely for example) an influx of talented Eastern Europeans.”

    The migration figures to and from GB offset each other too; its not just the international migration that balances.

    NI actually retains a much greater fraction of its young people than other regions of the UK such as Wales or the North East.

  • David,

    Good post and I’d have to agree with your line if NOT using too many stats (something I would not normally condone but more on that later).

    Charles has very kindly provided some stellar stats on the matter but the reason I’d come down on the side of David here & note that Charles’ stats are actually unhelpful in this instance is that it is actually distracting from the main thrust of the ‘devastation’ (perhaps too loaded a word but you get what I’m saying) of mass emigration with little chance of emigrants returning.

    For while it is obvious from Charles’ stats that the numbers are fairly self sustaining, there is still a massive loss incurred of emigration parties, young talent deciding not to make a go of it in the North & as AG has noted, many of those left behind or who stay become somewhat stuck in their opinions in all walks of life (I’d link a piece by St Fintan in the Irish Times on this very point but I’m on a phone).

    My criticism of Charles’ stats is that they kind of lack the nuance of loss and doesn’t take into account the fact that while NI Inc may find someone to replace one of its sons or daughters that loss costs slightly more than the replacement made in more than just quantifiable ways. I know, how very wishy washy but there you go.

    That does not mean I am again ist emigrating or migrating to NI, but I’m sure we’d all prefer the circumstances to be a whole lot better whether its to grow as a person & not solely because there’s no work.

    Finally, david asks why with 2 good uniswe see so much emigration? I ask you, look at what is being taught and how this is applicable to the North. When I did my masters I knew from halfway thru that there was no work for this qualification in the North, none. It begs the question, if I figured this out & the course had been going for 3 years then the Uni must’ve known this also. This cannot be the only course of its mind solely dedicated to getting NI grads out if NI?

  • Son of Strongbow

    AG

    I love the correlation you appear to make between academic achievement and ‘liberal/progressive’ views. Pity then the lumpen ill-educated underclass?

    How does your position explain a subject such as Nigel Dodds (double first St John’s College Cambridge)?

    Btw is your model only applicable to Protestants? How do lettered/unschooled Catholics’ attitudes/behaviours manifest themselves?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    CG

    “NI actually retains a much greater fraction of its young people than other regions of the UK such as Wales or the North East”

    I am surprised, I have to say. I’ll bear that in mind, cheers.

    Do you have any idea of whether one community is affected more than the other?

    Or is it pretty much even?

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    SoS

    As I said, these are only my observations and the vast majority of people that I know with liberal views were one’s that went across the water for Uni.

    The one’s who studied in NI are a mixed bag.

    It’s a rule of thumb as opposed to a strict formula.

    As for Dodds, who knows. I have wondered on numerous occasions as he does screw-up the trend.

    Not sure about Catholics as such, I only have one Catholic friend from NI that I didn’t meet in Glasgow.

    He’s cool as, but considerably more hard line than my Catholic friends who studied in Glasgow (no, the irony is not lost on me).

    I’m equally aware that there are people here who may have experienced the polar opposite of myself. “I know some one who went to study in Brighton, came back and joined the UVF!”.

    But, it was merely my meagre two-cents.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    BTW

    As you can see I gave only a Protestant perspective as unlike my brothers I had relatively few dealings with Catholics till I was 16 (apart from football games and wot not).

    Now, I would be tempted to say that this might have something to do with segregated education (I was state comprehensive and they were mixed Grammar) but…

  • Charles_Gould

    Am G

    It’s a little hard to say on communities on the out-migration front. The Catholic community tends (and historically this has always been the reason why they didn’t grow more) to suffer from the fact that they are concentrated in low-opportunity areas such as West of the Bann, and Derry, places from which outmigration is greatest. Also: fewer protestants go to university and more tend to go to FE colleges; so that tends to limit their outmigration. Of those that do go to university the lower tendency to go to uni (among protestants) is offset by a higher tendency to leave NI, resulting in rough balance.

    Though in recent years the change to university fees in GB has resulted in a rise in the number of young people (of both religions) staying in NI and a particular drop in the appeal of Scottish universities with their costly 4 yr degrees..

    Regarding in-migration, IIRC the 2001 census showed that 70% of the people migrating to NI from GB were protestant background (fIgures for new census not out yet) so that overall this tended to dampen demographic change since the numers leaving were probably more catholic than that.

    Inward migration from overseas countries (including EU) is religiously very diversified.

    Bottom line: the rate of migration is quite high but inflows are similar to outflows in terms of total numbers.

  • PeterOHanrahanrahan

    @SoS

    I would write Dodds off as an outlier, but then given the establishment nature of Cambridge, I’d be shocked if he came out of there a lefty.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    CG

    Interesting. I appreciate your number crunching.

    Back to my original point though, the new Protestant influx doesn’t quite fill the empty shoes of the departed Protestants as ( I imagine) they’d not be as likely to join the OO or marching bands as the Protestants whom they have statistically replaced.

    There is a constant theme mentioned on slugger about the ‘lack’ of Protestant/Unionist leadership.
    Such a theme would surely be partially explained by an exodus of a disproportionately high number of capable people from the Protestant community?

  • “those who quietly make that journey out of our province and perhaps develop a strategy that might entice them to come back.”

    Nigel Annett grew up in Portstewart, went to school in Coleraine and departed in the late 70s. Here he is, talking about his experience as managing director of Welsh Water (Glas Cymru). He’s just about to step down from this post. Would he dip his toe into the murky waters back here?

  • Charles_Gould

    Am G

    There are surely enough left among whom to find a leader.

    Unionism seems rather Cambridge-led with Nesbitt and Dodds, though Oxford, to be fair, does have McCausland.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    CG

    “Am G

    There are surely enough left among whom to find a leader.

    Unionism seems rather Cambridge-led with Nesbitt and Dodds, though Oxford, to be fair, does have McCausland.”

    Well, statistically speaking, yes.

    Although, given the Alumni parade that you’ve highlighted I’d advocate excluding Oxbridge graduates from the list of contenders for a while.

    Though it is interesting that they buck the trend (well, perceived AG trend) of liberal attitudes amongst mainland graduates.
    P O’H did touch on that particular point though.

    Are there any progressive/liberal/treacherous Unionist politicians that have an Oxbridge background? Would be interesting to see if there is a correlation eh?
    I’ll leave the fact finding to you if you don’t mind, you’re much better at it than me.

  • Charles_Gould

    Esmond Birnie was Cambridge.

    Snag is that Oxbridge graduates usually expect more than £45k or whatever pittance a MLA is paid

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    I haven’t seen my youngest brother since he finished his Oxbridge post-grad.
    I’ll tread ever so gingerly whisperly around him upon our reunion lest he has seen the light like those who have beaten the path before him.

  • Barnshee

    Ireland north and south have always had difficulty in balancing population size, economic activity and particularly —jobs.

    Surplus population? emigration follows invariably — Ireland has bad weather and few natural resource –hardly a great start.

    The industries attracted- shipbuilding linen engineering man made fibres -lost their competitive advantage (that old British welfare state being a big factor) and either left or folded.

    The gap between the conditions in public sector and the private remain staggering it is no wonder the security of a “state job” is prized. Sadly the prospects for graduates of NI Universities are bleak.

    (From experience those graduating from GB Universities do seem better placed -and that seems mostly because they are “in” already and are closer to opportunity)

  • On the point of the difference between stay-at-homes and those who have travelled, visit places like Applecross in the West Highlands. Half the people there have never left, the others went to sea in the merchant navy, and came back to retire, as did my father’s former shipmate, Alan McKinness.

    At the community council meeting, the Wee Free Minister was arguing against letting an Englishman who set up an outward bound training centre there to mary a Catholic in the old Church of Scotalnd church. So they went outside for a punch up. The couple married in the old church.

    Such incidents show the Quiet Man was somewhat realistic.

  • Old Mortality

    The figures for immigration are at least as disturbing as those for emigration. Why are people from outside the UK coming to NI in such numbers into what is supposedly a depressed economy where employment is difficult to obtain? Could it be that our local labour market is not functioning effectively?

  • I think the title of this post is over-dramatic.

    My maternal grandmother had 8 brothers and sisters; 7 left UIster, returning only for weddings and funerals. I have 18 cousins, 15 presently live outside NI. If a job opportunity appears back in Belfast, they have come back.

    Life, study, work and travel is much more flexible than in my grandmother’s time; when I speak to people from Belfast in London or mainland Europe you don’t, generally, get the impression that these are people who have made a life-changing decision. At the moment, it makes more sense to look for work in SE England (or Brussels, or New York or Auckland or Berlin). Doesn’t mean you’ll never be back.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I’m not writing this to simply engage in pessimism about the future. Rather I’m trying to highlight that our failure to create a more normalised society and a more prosperous economy is forcing thousands of people to emigrate. We cannot pass the buck onto the British government for this as it is the failures of our own government that are driving this trend.

    I’ve often written that Northern Ireland will sink or swim on what we choose to do here. We need to stop persisting with an economy and a society that encourages 20,000 plus to leave our shores every single year. Emigration may not be headline news but there is a real problem going on right now.

    For far too often the economic argument around skilled youth unemployment has been levied fully at the Assembly and the society’s abnormality. Is Greece or Italy anymore normal a society?

    Young people are paying for the boomerang generation and for the pensions and welfare of the elderly that won’t return to them. You can complain about skills or resources all you want but unless we do the best we can with what we’re left with, rather than clinging to long dead dreams of British imperialism or the Celtic tiger depending on perspective.

    The manna from heaven wasn’t bread from the sky, but sticky honey on the desert branch.

  • Jack2

    Best of our next generation will be the educated, taxpaying & lawabiding?

    I have never been convicted of a criminal offense.
    I have never been cautioned.
    I have never been arrested.
    I have worked for the past 15+ years.
    I have am in the top 10% of UK tax payers for 5+ yrs.
    I always vote.

    Am I a model citizen? Does anyone listen to me?

    Statistsics will tell you that my children are more likely to be law abiding higher rate tax payers. Thats a fact.
    I will encourage them to leave this shithole at the first opportunity and make their own way in life peacefully. Gone are 2-3 decent people who may with their taxes keep knuckle draggers in housing benefit/buckfast and the court system.

  • sherdy

    Charles – You mention Nesbitt and Dodds as former Cambridge inmates. Not really a good recommendation for such an august uni?

  • Sherdy [10.14] and not a likely influx into the DUP electorate, their province is confined by 2/3 of the pensioners strata of voters, while SF voters is made up of 2/3 among those of younger voters. The past of unionism is Orange, the future is bleak.

  • Ní Dhuibhir

    I know enough semi-willing emigrants to Australia etc to agree that the lack of options for many young people here is a real problem, both for them and for all of us.

    However, if you’re talking about young people choosing to study in any but the two universities closest to their family homes, that seems like a different and much less problematic thing. Where else in Ireland or the UK would the expectation be that high achieving 18-year-olds should choose between two institutions?

    People not coming back afterwards is a different thing again – and a problem for us here, but maybe not so much for them. Newly qualified 22-year-olds want jobs and fun, and they have more chance of both those things elsewhere. Ironically, the ‘fun’ quotient here is kept down by the local students who stay – and return to their parents’ houses every weekend, leaving Belfast without the kind of nightlife that develops in university towns across the water. That coupled with the job situation isn’t an appealing life.

  • Coll Ciotach

    I don’y buy it. The reason why people emigrate are many and varied but to say that they are “needed” does not wash, in fact it is the opposite – they are surplus to needs. Now you may say that the economy is crap – and it is – but frankly that is a different story. The fact is that the economy has no use for these people. And it will not miss them.

  • Barnshee

    “I don’y buy it. The reason why people emigrate are many and varied but to say that they are “needed” does not wash, in fact it is the opposite – they are surplus to needs. ”

    Oh dear a dose of reality -its the naughty step for you

    Its essential that the ubiversities continue to flood the market with grads and post grads

    1 It keeps up employment in the education sector (teachers continue to be churned out ignoring the fall in school roles and the chronic duplication in the system)

    2 It keeps the students off the dole queue

    That fact that the sector has a lot of (ahem) degrees of doubtful usefulness and has effectively abandoned some as “undersubscribed” (ie “too difficult” foreign languages spring to mind) only adds to the problem.

  • FuturePhysicist

    I’m actually going to say there’s truth in both extremes in the last two posts, but also want to make some points

    People drive our economy, and if people we need are leaving because we consider them surplus on some other score, I.e want their skills but not their personality or vice versa, we need to take responsibility for that. They are surplus due to ignorance, there’s no use putting short term things like impressions or attitudes first

    Similarly people can change and skill again but only to the point they have resources for, a lot of these changes employees may have to do are willpower changes, such as relocate, uprooting families, ending relationships or financing reskilling as well as other sacrifices.

    The UK and Ireland are in the bottom two in terms of university/business relationships are there are plenty of theories and not enough enlightenment as to why that will be. The Adam Smith invisible hand logic that the problem will fix itself in good time will not stop emigration, as the most natural response to an environment where you pay constantly to be a heavy lifter with no reward is to eventually leave.

  • Barnshee

    “People drive our economy, and if people we need are leaving because we consider them surplus on some other score, I.e want their skills but not their personality or vice versa”

    There is a limited matket for their skills it is sadly the iron fist of the market at work The supply of “cannonfodder “from the education system is not matched to local demand. Stay-(on the dole ) or leave

    PS it was ever thus

  • FuturePhysicist

    Why does this era become the worst in human civilization, far worse than post-war squaller, apparently when the world was forced to make more with less and bring on a golden age of scientific development in semiconductors driven by that rare comody called sand (oh wait that’s bloody everywhere) that allows Alex, Mick and the rest to have jobs they can do in the bathroom, the demegogues of cynics are given more attention than the inspiring pioneers.

    A lot of the inherited wealth and journalistic comfort to be cynical was destroyed by the war. I firmly believe that if you are capable of doing a vital job in society and can find your place in a market, social or commercial the rich and sometimes middle class who can’t do it for themselves.

    I would rather be a working class person working hard to just getting by than the straw example a rich diva paracite (gender neutral) who’s indebted to everyone helping them to survive. I won’t be found wanting when there’s no one to exploit.

  • Barnshee

    FP

    “I firmly believe that if you are capable of doing a vital job in society and can find your place in a market, social or commercial the rich and sometimes middle class who can’t do it for themselves.”

    Identify these “vital” jobs show where they are

  • CW

    There will always be jobs locally for your bog standard professions that can be found in any small town – doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, teachers, etc.

    But part of the problem is with other highly skilled professions that there isn’t much demand for in NI – eg astrophysicists, petrochemical engineers, geologists, linguists, economists. Bright graduates with qualifications in these fields will almost inevitably be forced to move further afield.

    Ironically QUB is one of the best universities for physics in the UK – yet local opportunities for physics graduates are far and few between – unless you want to teach physics in a local school.

    Then there are those who stay local as they aren’t prepared to emigrate – and end up underachieving. At my old school for example many of the teachers were from the local area and had been pupils at the school back in the day. They were mostly of that generation born in the 1940s who’d been the first generation of ordinary people to attend university in the ‘60s following the introduction of free higher education some years previously. Some of them were highly intelligent and could have done better for themselves had they been prepared to move further afield.

    I’m not denigrating the teaching profession, but making the point that many of them didn’t enter the profession out of any genuine sense of vocation, but more because they felt it was the only realistic career option open to them at the time.

  • Barnshee

    “There will always be jobs locally for your bog standard professions that can be found in any small town – doctors, dentists, lawyers, accountants, teachers, ”

    The whole problem is that these jobs are scarce !
    There are no teaching vacancies- Law is over subscribed Accountancy is low salary waiting for dead mans shoes. Think what its like for the other graduates

  • FuturePhysicist

    Ironically QUB is one of the best universities for physics in the UK – yet local opportunities for physics graduates are far and few between – unless you want to teach physics in a local school.

    I remember a British Research Council Saying “We’re good at Science, We’re bad at using Science” and that’s quite true, quite often physicists are steered towards finance rather than science or engineering. A lot of Speculators would be physicists, trying to get real time analysis of market trends. A lot of the derivatives market derives from thermodynamic equations. It’s probably true of Ireland too, there are a few physicists who’ve ended up in broadcasting and the like.

    There are a few psychological disjoints though, there’s complaints about university firewalls for information, but often that’s a number of things: the scientific illiteracy of venture capitalists, arguably the business illiteracy of scientists, and its effect on the scientific business business model.

    There are jobs in physics, and jobs that require physics grads (over say a mathematician) but you have to contort a bit, often engineering R&D or metrology is the next step, or possibly IT, logistics etc.

    http://www.irishjobs.ie/ShowResults.aspx?Keywords=Physics&Recruiter=Company%2cAgency

    The issue with graduate unemployment is not much different than non-graduate, skills and wills, you do have to have the will to struggle sometimes.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    Am Ghobsmacht,
    Your story rang a bell, of the band bereft of its more liberal members who went to the mainland. Anecdotal too, but a similar story: in the NI supporters’ club set up by my mates and of which I’m occasionally a member, we had a vote on its name when it was set up, in particular whether the word ‘loyal’ should be included. The mainland-dwelling contingent on the whole voted against it on the basis of cross-community sensitivity; but we were out-voted by the locally-based members who saw no problem with it. I found it profoundly depressing, though to be fair, it was quite right that those living in NI and going to most of the games should prevail.

    I do think Northern Ireland should be bending over backwards to try and keep its graduates and create an environment where they can thrive. But realistically for me, the lure of university on the mainland and thereafter, the London thing, was always going to win out. And when you do go, you have to accept your voice back home will be marginal at best. Slugger is my only input really these days!

    That said, a lot of very talented, open-minded and liberal people of my generation stayed or, having left, went back. Several of them are members of the same said NI supporters’ club. And several of them have taught me a few things about cross-community relations. So to end on a more positive note, I’m glad to say it’s not simply a case of liberal flight, among my cohort at least.

  • Charles_Gould

    The London thing: a great city, lots of opportunity.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I’m a bit obsessed with London – sorry! There’s a book to be written about the experiences of Ulster people in the metropolis … anyway that’s by the by

  • Comrade Stalin

    The reason why the IT sector is doing so well is because the barriers to entry are relatively low. You don’t have to build a factory, acquire large amounts of power, you don’t need to build infrastructure (other than decent internet which essentially comes for free as a consumer commodity).

    One person armed with a laptop, some programming skills and an idea can change the world.

    It’s a bit different for physics. Physics is obviously at the forefront of dealing with some of the major questions our society is likely to face over the next century, principally power generation. But it’s not so easy to obtain access to the research equipment. Last time I checked, QUB were partnered with a research lab in the USA looking at inertial confinement fusion but I don’t know if that’s still going on or not.

  • Comrade Stalin

    Charles:

    Snag is that Oxbridge graduates usually expect more than £45k or whatever pittance a MLA is paid

    Four times the minimum wage is a pittance ? You’re definitely a (new) Labour man.

  • FDM

    Looks like the Catholic next generation of kids will be lucky to make it out of school alive.

    http://www.u.tv/News/Paramilitary-threat-to-Belfast-schools/a1dcbc78-fe5e-4c04-8c34-b2d865ea0a0b?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter

    There are not the words to describe these people.

  • Charles_Gould

    CS: :).

    I don’t endorse the attitude, and perhaps I am wrong, but my point, expressed in more moderate terms, is that people coming out of the top universities may not, on the whole, find the overall package attractive, given the alternatives on offer.

  • Awaywithya

    Really good but sad thread.

    The young people who have ambition and hopes are the type that are most likely to leave.

    Who can really blame them.

    Then there are the others, who we pay to keep and police.

    An economic disaster .

  • Charles_Gould

    Actually I must return to the points I made at the outset:

    *during the 2000s, more people migrated in to NI than out.
    *this applies to NI-GB migration, as well as NI-rest of world migration.

    Currently there is still more international in-migration than out-migration.

    And the NI-GB migration, though currently net negative, is only marginally so, and only for the last couple of years.

    So the data suggests this is not as bad as people seem to think.

  • FuturePhysicist

    The reason why the IT sector is doing so well is because the barriers to entry are relatively low. You don’t have to build a factory, acquire large amounts of power, you don’t need to build infrastructure (other than decent internet which essentially comes for free as a consumer commodity).

    One person armed with a laptop, some programming skills and an idea can change the world.

    It’s a bit different for physics. Physics is obviously at the forefront of dealing with some of the major questions our society is likely to face over the next century, principally power generation. But it’s not so easy to obtain access to the research equipment. Last time I checked, QUB were partnered with a research lab in the USA looking at inertial confinement fusion but I don’t know if that’s still going on or not.

    A misconception about physics is you need a lab or a factory, one area against the grain is that of medical physics, there is certainly some scope for homegrown investigators in applied physics and its sister subject applied chemistry. Theoretical Physics and Simulation requires no advanced equipment but a computer.

    Do you honestly think some computer scientist would be able to simulate memristor or spintronic devices without a background?

    The arguements about physics could easily be made about ICT, particularly software engineering and computer programming … I’ve learnt Irish and Japanese in my time but nothing caused me as much
    greif as C++, languages also are low cost but there’s a low motivation to learn them.

    And the next issue is knowledge transfer, academia provides us with intelligence not just skills, what use is looking for skills when you don’t have the intelligence to derive them? We can’t simply say ICT is a catch all subject, that a computer operator is a computer operator is a computer operator nonsense, the reality is computer science grads have worse employment rates than humanities nevermind physical scientists.

    Science, particularly lay science is needed in the business sector to communicate R&D breakthroughs to companies. Germany does lay science and scientific communication well. Northern Ireland does it badly, in contrast even to its neighbours yet the award for scientific communication is called the Kelvin award … I wonder if anyone from Northern Ireland, nationalist, unionist or other could ever win it again?