News

Irish Farming Colleges Thrive During Recession

Teenagers and their parents attend an open day at Pallaskenry Agricultural College, which teaches traditional courses in farming, a few kilometers west of Limerick, Ireland, March 2012.
Teenagers and their parents attend an open day at Pallaskenry Agricultural College, which teaches traditional courses in farming, a few kilometers west of Limerick, Ireland, March 2012.
Dominic Laurie

Ireland is back into recession for a second time since the start of the financial crisis four years ago. Many sectors of the economy are struggling. But one traditional Irish career has suddenly become more attractive again - farming. Agricultural colleges have seen a resurgence in admissions.

Pallaskenry Agricultural College

Teenagers and their parents at an open day at Pallaskenry Agricultural College - a few kilometers west of Limerick.

They’re watching students perfecting the art of repairing agricultural mechanical equipment - one of the specializations at the college. It also teaches more traditional courses in farming, particularly how to look after dairy herds, such a common sight in this part of Ireland. The open day is popular. There are several bus loads of high school kids coming to look around. But it wasn’t always like this. Only a few years ago, the college almost had to close. In Ireland’s boom years, farming was unpopular and the number of students reached an all-time low. John McCarthy is the school's principal.

"Agriculture was a dirty name," said McCarthy. "There was no positive future in agriculture, parents were advising their sons and daughters to do anything but agriculture. And what is I suppose extraordinary looking back at it, is how such a change could have occurred in such a short space of time, he continued, we’re at a stage now where every parent in Ireland that has a farm, and even people in urban communities are talking about, is there any way they could get into farming.”

Finding a job

John Godley, a student from a nearby high school, is looking around today. He says many of his friends are talking about moving abroad to find work. He, though, wants to stay.

"You can just go on your family farm, and you don’t have to go away to Australia looking for work - it’s handy!" he said.

Pallaskenry is not alone in its popularity. The number of students at all the country’s agricultural colleges has doubled since 2006. But it’s not just a lack of other options that’s making farming more attractive.

Global prices for beef, lamb and milk are all up. Ireland exports all of these. So even while Ireland's domestic economy struggles, many farmers are doing well.

Farming becoming attractive

John’s teacher, Paddy Mulvihill, says a career in farming is now far more attractive than a few years ago.

“There is work in farming. Those doing engineering or accounting or that area, there’s very little prospect of work - they’ll go on to college all right, but there’s no prospect of future employment, they’re taking a chance on it," said Mulvihill. "Farming is more certain at the moment, and profits have definitely increased.”

Farming can’t save everyone. Austerity, higher taxes and spending cuts are hurting. Many young people have moved abroad to find a better future.

But just as Ireland’s lambing season provides fresh hope for farmers, those studying agriculture can look to a brighter future too. That’s if they can get a place in college.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs