An Irish university today opened its first ever entrepreneurship conference in a telling sign of the times.

University College Cork (UCC) today officially commenced its first ever 'Innov8' week, with college president Dr Michael Murphy telling staff and students that colleges had to equip students to be "job-creators rather than job fillers" at a time when jobs, whether fixed or temporary, are increasingly hard to come by.

The week long series of events, including talks from local and national celebrity entrepreneurs, is designed to get students thinking about running their own businesses rather than merely working for them.

The university has recently set up its first ever graduate-only business incubator in a bid to encourage students to think twice before jumping on the emigrant planes routinely hustling tens of thousands of desperate young Irish to foreign shores every year.

Seven successful projects have already passed through its doors, including several that have gone onto achieve hotly sought-after Enterprise Ireland funding, while the combined potential for job creation between the projects, when tallied, could number in the dozens.

The emigration connection -  though hardly mentioned at today's three hour gala ceremony -  could scarcely by understated.

Although the exact number of young emigrants leaving Ireland every year remains open to debate, the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) has repeatedly put the figure in the tens of thousands, putting the current emigration crisis on a par with those of previous economically derelict decades.

Demonstrations by the students' union aimed at drawing government attention to the emigration problem have largely fallen on deaf ears, a fact probably not helped by student unions' general penchant for making a demonstration out of just about anything they can successfully publicize.

The problem continues, however, and stories such as this one on Irish Central provide apt illustration of the effect the continued population outflow is having on rural and urban Irish communities, where many GAA teams find themselves unable to field the requisite number of players, ravaged  by continuous migration outflows that leaves few young people remaining in their communities.

This, among other reasons,  is why the UCC initiative is a step in the right direction for Irish universities, who have too often be slow to embrace the culture of entrepreneurship that permeates so much of American life and thinking.

If students don't believe they can create jobs and start their own business they simply won't, but witha little support and gentle steering they can truly work wonders.

The pervasive picture of doom and gloom that has so thoroughly enveloped the Irish media is also doing students' sense of optimism no favours.

Initiatives like this, though, make for a thoroughly brighter outlook.

Ireland as a whole can definitely do with a little more lightening such as the encouraging meeting spearheaded by former president Clinton last week.

Innov8 Week is another small glimmer that can light a brighter path towards Ireland's future.