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.
Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Expelled from Pakistan, Afghan Refugees Return to Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs