Achieving an educated workforce is a long-term strategy
Graduates have done well in the European Union job market over the last 20 years, but getting a job has been much more challenging for those who never made it beyond Junior Cert or equivalent. Partly as a result of globalisation, goods and services traditionally produced in the EU by less well educated workers have increasingly been sourced from countries such as such as India, Bangladesh and China. Although much of the production of such goods, such as textiles and clothing, has already moved to less developed economies, there is still no sign of this movement of jobs abating.
For graduates, employment opportunities have grown continuously over the last 20 years. While the rate of growth slowed since the crisis began in 2008, nonetheless graduate employment has risen continuously through the crisis years.
The effect of 30 years’ investment in education in Ireland has been to dramatically reduce the numbers leaving school early and to raise the proportion of young people going on to third-level education to more than 50 per cent. While, before the 2008 crisis, participation in third-level education had been much higher among girls, the gap between boys and girls has been somewhat reduced since then. Now more than half of boys are also going on to third-level education. It would appear that the fall in job opportunities in the construction sector has greatly reduced the incentive for boys to leave school early. Hopefully there is also a greater recognition of the importance of education in improving life opportunities.
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