In an effort to find a way out of Ireland’s slumping economy, a looming €50 million budget cut and few employment prospects, thousands of Irish people attended a two-day work abroad jobs fair in Dublin over the weekend.
Over 5,000 young families, older people and recent graduates sought advice and information on what employment prospects are available to them outside of recession hit Ireland. Jobs in the healthcare, construction and engineering industries were on offer in countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand at the “Working Abroad Expo” that was held at the RDS in Dublin. The aim of the expo was to introduce prospective emigrants to recruiters and visa experts in the aforementioned countries. Over 45 exhibitors attended the expo, including migration officials, relocation experts, government bodies and recruiters. Exhibitors included the Canadian High Commission and Immigration New Zealand, which outlined the current visa options for Irish citizens. “There is plenty of opportunity for all and many people may just find they fall into a category. We are recruiting for a wide variety of positions,” Christopher Willis of Canadian Visa Specialists told The Irish Times.
Stephen McLaron, one of the event organizers, said this year’s event attracted more interest than previous years. Said McLaron, "We have seen significantly more Irish people here than this time 12 months ago.” "I would now estimate 80% to 95% of the people here are Irish. There are a lot of people here today that have jobs, but they are concerned about their future prospects. "We issued 3,000 tickets. But I'd say overall we are tracking about 4,500 to 5,000 people over the two days,” added McLaron.
A Co. Dublin woman, Orla Smith, told the Irish Independent newspaper that emigration was her only option in ensuring her daughter’s future.
"I just had my daughter Annabelle recently and I don't want to bring her up here. What future has she got here?" she asked.
"We are considering going abroad because Des, my partner, is struggling at work and I am finding it hard to get back to work after the baby. There is just no future.
Meanwhile in New York, the Aisling Irish Community Center in Yonkers and the Emerald Isle Immigration Centers in both Queens and the Bronx have reported several weekly inquiries, both via email and phone, from people in Ireland who wish to come to the U.S. for work.
“New arrivals from Ireland continue to land on our doorstep every week, full of hope and renewed optimism that they will get back on their feet here and find work as well as a new life,” Orla Kelleher Doherty, director of the Aisling Irish Community Center, told the Irish Voice.
“The downside of this is that most of them become part of the undocumented Irish community here, estimated at over 50,000 people, which in itself multiplies and magnifies issues such as loneliness, depression, alcoholism and so on.”
The centers have been advising people of the consequences of coming to the U.S. without a visa, but Kelleher Doherty said it’s not always easy advice to give.
“While we will advise people of the facts and the pitfalls of emigrating illegally to the U.S., it is difficult to discourage somebody whose spirit, pride and motivation has taken a bashing from the Irish economy over the past few years, standing in the dole queue week after week, and having job application after job application declined,” she said.
“How can you tell somebody to stay at home if there’s a better chance of them finding a job here, getting back on their feet and shaking off that feeling of uselessness?”
Kelleher said based on surveys completed at the center by new arrivals, “Most are well educated people who want to make something of their lives albeit at the cost of living thousands of miles away from their family and friends.”
On Tuesday, October 5, the annual diversity green card lottery offered by the State Department opened for applications. The lottery grants 50,000 green cards on an annual basis to applicants from most countries in the world, and millions of entries are lodged via an electronic website. The four-week entry period concludes on Tuesday, November 2. Irish people have been applying for the lottery since its inception back in the 1990s, but this year floods of people are expected to apply for a chance to escape the downward spiraling economy in Ireland.
Approximately 12 million people qualify and apply for the lottery every year. Some 201 Irish applicants were chosen last year, and 167 in 2008. Warning people of fraudulent websites, Joe O’Brien of the Crosscare Migrant Project said, “People need to be extra vigilant about companies and websites charging a fee for processing applications.” “All applications go through the one official route which is a U.S. Department of State website at www.dvlottery.state.gov. Applications can only be made online via this site and there is no charge to submit an application,” he said.
In a joint appeal to the public, Crosscare, which is based in Ireland, and the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers in the U.S., have said people should only send in their applications via the official site. “Not only are immigrants unnecessarily giving their money and their personal information to private companies, but often no application is actually filed for them and they lose their opportunity to submit an entry,” said Sheila Gleeson, director of the Coalition of Irish Immigration Centers. She said the centers were seeing an increasing number of Irish immigrants arriving in all major cities, and urged anyone thinking of going to the U.S. to avail of legal means to allow them to stay. In New York, public informational seminars will take place with specific emphasis on the lottery during the month of October. The Emerald Isle will host one at its office in Queens (59-26 Woodside Avenue, Woodside) on Wednesday, October 13 at 7 p.m. The following evening the Emerald Isle will host a seminar at its Bronx office (4275 Katonah Avenue, Woodlawn) also at 7 p.m. On Tuesday, October 26 there will be a seminar at St. Patrick’s Church, Archway Room, 511 4th Avenue, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn.