Australia, a destination for thousands of young Irish every year is now saying: no Irish need apply.
The Government down under announced last week that it was cutting visas for skilled migrant workers by 14 percent, from 133,500 to 115,000.
The cutbacks will have a major affect on the young Irish, particularly construction workers, who are being laid-off in their droves in Ireland.
Reports suggest that thousands of laid-off construction workers were planning on escaping the Irish recession by going to Australia.
However, they may have to rethink their plans.
“We don’t want people coming in who are going to compete with Australians for limited jobs,” said Immigration Minister Chris Evans on Australian radio.
The Irish Central Statistics Office has said that emigration from Ireland is at its highest level in almost 20 years. In the year up to last April, 45,300 Irish left the country in search of work – Australia and New Zealand were the most popular destinations.
But even for the Irish who are currently in Australia, things can be tough.
Paula King, who is 24 and from Lorrha in Co. Tipperary is one recent Irish immigrant to Oz. Speaking from Sydney, where she arrived a few weeks ago, she said was finding it “extremely hard” to find work.
“There are way too many Irish down here.” said King, who was a wedding planner when she left Ireland, and who is looking for a job in the hotel trade. “At the moment the hostels are full of Irish looking for work. Everyone I have spoken to is finding it really hard to find a job. A lot are actually returning to Ireland because of this. The jobs market here is fairly flooded at the moment.”
Bricklayers, plumbers, welders, carpenters and metal fitters are among those to be taken off the list as the Australian construction industry declines. But other professions such as nurses, doctors, engineers and information technology remain on the list, as the country still has shortages in these areas.
However, Australia’s nearest neighbor New Zealand, has said it has no plans to cut the 45,000 skilled migrants it takes each year.
"New Zealand needs skilled migrants to grow," Prime Minister John Key said. "We have a skills deficit and while that may abate slightly because of the downturn in the economy and the growing unemployment, we still have to make sure we have enough skills to grow our economy and develop further."