Statues in Dublin's Docklands. Ireland is experiencing a worrying brain-drain as citizens look for better opportunities abroad. (Anthony Devlin/Getty Images)


Ireland suffering worrying ‘brain-drain’, and the entire EU should take note


A recent Euronews report should worry all readers in the European Union, particularly those residing in Ireland.

That’s because there is a real scarcity of skilled workers all across the continent. In short, an increasing number of employers are struggling to recruit high-skilled employees. Last year, 75 per cent of businesses across 21 European countries faced challenges in finding appropriate workers.

In 2018, that figure was 42 per cent. That’s a dramatic jump in just five years.

Of all the nations suffering, my country of birth Ireland is the worst affected.

In 2018, 18 per cent of employers struggled to find workers with the requisite skills. Today, 81 per cent report having this problem.

Which begs the question: What is going on? After all, this is Ireland we are talking about, a country renowned for its excellent education system.

A recent study by TutorSpace, an online educational site for students, ranked Ireland third in Europe for its quality and accessibility to education. The study evaluated European countries based on their Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) scores, as well as factors such as education quality, access to higher education, literacy, digital literacy and government investment.

Estonia secured the top spot with the highest PISA scores in mathematics and science, achieving a total of 91.86 for education quality and access. Pupils in Estonia typically spend an average of 13.55 years in the education system, with the Government allocating approximately 14.35 per cent of its expenditure to the sector.

Switzerland claimed the second position with a category score of 84.92 and the second-highest mathematics score. The Swiss Government dedicates 14.24 per cent of its expenditure to education, while students spend around 13.86 years in the school system.

Ireland followed closely in third place with a total score of 84.78 and the highest reading score among the top 15 countries. On average, Irish pupils spend 11.58 years immersed in the education system. Elementary-school students in Ireland typically spend five hours and 40 minutes daily on education, including all breaks and assembly time.

The problem, it seems, has little to do with the school system and a lot to do with the country’s leadership.

By opening the door to more people from abroad, many of whom are unskilled and reliant on the government for support, elected officials are closing the door on young Irish people.

Today, one in five people living in Ireland were born abroad. The country is becoming an increasingly dangerous place to live, with violent groups including machete-wielding gangs, roaming the streets and actively seeking to create mayhem.

To make matters worse, the country is consumed by an ever-worsening housing crisis, a cost of living crisis and stagnant wages.

Is it any wonder that Ireland is experiencing a “brain drain”?

Why would any young, educated Irish person want to stay in their country of birth? I say this as someone who, just a few years ago, asked myself the very same question – and decided to look abroad for opportunities.

Brain drain is a very serious issue. It’s a problem that can turn a strong country into a stuttering mess.

The emigration of highly skilled professionals results in a depletion of the workforce’s expertise in the country they are leaving. These individuals go abroad, taking with them valuable abilities, experience and know-how that are essential for driving economic progress, fostering innovation and enhancing competitiveness.

It is ridiculous to think about how the country invests so much in educating children, only to see them take these skills abroad. Many of the Irish that do leave have no intention of ever returning.

The departure of talented professionals can have a negative impact on productivity, impede innovation and stifle the advancement of industries that depend on specialised knowledge and proficiency.

By 2050, 1 in 20 people in Ireland will be over the age of 85. More people are retiring and fewer qualified people are left to fill their roles. This is a ticking time bomb, one that is destined to detonate very soon.

The social implications of brain drain are also profound. It impedes the transfer of knowledge within the local community, constraining the growth and development of talent. Additionally, the exodus of expatriates may instil a sense of discouragement and diminish confidence in the opportunities available in the country they are leaving.

Couple that fact with the influx of unskilled immigrants and you have a recipe for widespread chaos.

The Ireland you know – or think you know – is not the one that exists today. As more and more of the country’s brightest minds look to the likes of Australia and Canada for opportunities, Ireland finds itself in a deeply troubling position.

Even more worryingly, this is a problem that will likely get many times worse before it gets better.

Unless there is a radical overhaul of the current political system, Ireland will be drained dry – leaving it a brainless, barren place, full of dashed dreams and missed opportunities.