Monday, September 12, 2022

James Cox

More than seven in 10 young people aged 18-24 are considering moving abroad because they think they would enjoy a better quality of life elsewhere, according to a new survey.

The research was carried out by RED C on behalf of the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), and was published on Monday.

NYCI, the representative body for voluntary youth organisations in Ireland, has expressed concern at the findings of the survey which “show the severe impact the cost-of-living crisis is having on young people in Ireland,” and is calling for action from the Government to prevent young people from moving abroad.

Commenting on the findings of the research, Paul Gordon, director of policy and advocacy, National Youth Council of Ireland, said: “There is a real fear from young people about what the future holds for them. Many say they’re struggling to make ends meet and quality-of-life considerations are driving them to consider a future outside of Ireland. Government must act to ensure young people aren’t overlooked in this crisis.”

Financial Impact and Mental Health

Key findings from the recent survey show that among those surveyed aged 18-24, eight in 10 said that they are fearful for the future and one in two reported worse mental health in the context of the rising cost-of-living.

More than four in 10 responded that they are not as happy as they were six months ago; almost one in two said they are struggling to make ends meet; and more than one in four said their experience with housing in the past six months is worse.

Targeted action needed from Government

As part of its pre-Budget submission, NYCI is calling on the Government to:

  • Reduce registration fees for those in college, higher education, or on apprenticeships.
  • Raise the national minimum wage for under-20s to the same level as over-20s.
  • Bring the rate of Jobseekers’ Allowance for under-25s in line with that of those over 25.
  • Extend the Young Adult travel card to more young people.
  • Increase government investment in youth work services in local communities.

Mr Gordon said that, when asked as part of the survey about NYCI’s Budget proposals, the wider population was very supportive of policies intended to help young people: “There is strong support across all age groups for our proposals, with 85 per cent in favour of reducing registration fees, almost 8 in 10 supportive of raising the minimum wage for under-20s and extending the Young Adult travel card to more young people. 2 in 3 are in favour of increasing government spending on youth work, and more than one in two support raising Jobseekers’ Allowance for under-25s.

“We want Government to heed the message that young people and the wider public are sending in this research, and to address the struggles NYCI frequently hears about from young people. Our leaders need to show young people in Ireland that they are a valued part of society, and that they not left out of the conversation on the cost-of-living.”

Young People’s Concerns

In addition to those who responded to the survey, two young people have shared their personal experiences with NYCI about how the rising cost-of-living is impacting them.

Clara Jane Hickey, age 21, from Waterford, moved from Ireland to the Netherlands last month to study at the University of Groningen.

Clara Jane told NYCI: “I left Ireland in August due to the costs of living there. In the Netherlands, I pay lower third-level tuition fees per year compared with Ireland, where I, or my parents, would need to be able to afford a mandatory contribution of €3,000 per year. Finding accommodation has been so much more realistic for me in the Netherlands. I also find the public transport system much better than in Ireland.”

Aisling Maloney, age 19, from Roscrea, Co. Tipperary, is returning to college at UCD this autumn, where she has received a scholarship to study politics and law.

Aisling said: “Since I’m from a low socio-economic background, I tend to struggle with the rising cost-of-living. I’m lucky in that I’ve secured accommodation for next year on campus, but I’m worried about the cost of food, textbooks and also about missing out on life opportunities that other young people have and might take for granted.”

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