This week tens of thousands of young men and women will have received their Leaving Cert results. The world that they will be entering into now is much different than it was even ten years ago. Having gone through the experience with four of my own children in recent years, I would have a fair idea of what to expect.
Third level college is what lies ahead for most students, and while it is probably a requirement now for most jobs, there are far more choices for young people which are not given fair consideration. Qualified carpenters, electricians, plumbers, block-layers, mechanics and plenty more jobs in construction and the building and other trades are now more valuable than they have ever been. The day of people turning their noses up at these careers should be long gone. Indeed, good tradespeople are capable of earning far more than many of those who have spent five or six years in college.
The general trend now for students in third level is that a huge number do a basic degree and then go on to do a secondary degree such as an honours or some complimentary course that will enhance their chances of getting a job. It’s to the credit of many young people that they are prepared to go to college for so long to improve their chances later in life, but the reality for parents is that it costs a fortune…and many people are struggling with the cost of sending their children to third level institutions. The cost of rent alone is almost out of reach in some cases. How long will it be before some people simply will not be able to afford to send their children to college?
On the plus side, there are loads of employment options for young people at the present time, and with our own economy showing almost full employment, there are plenty of jobs to go around. But, as we have seen so many times in the past, these things move in cycles and it is hard to predict what’s coming down the tracks. A Brexit with no deal is one major worry in terms of jobs.
One aspect of life that has certainly changed in recent years is that young people tend not to look as a job as being ‘for life’. A huge percentage of the younger set are happy to work in a job for four or five years, and then seek a change. The fact that there are so many of that generation who simply cannot afford to buy a place to live has also changed lifestyles radically.
But the fact remains that while the Leaving Cert is an exam that bridges the gap between adolescence and adulthood, it should never define any person. If the results are good then that’s great, but if they are not so good then there are many options for our young people to take. I wish them all the best of luck as they consider their options and look to the future this week. I would love to see a sizeable number of the local students being able to live and work in County Roscommon, but that’s far too much to hope for unfortunately. The vast majority are set for Galway, Dublin, London, New York, Toronto and elsewhere.