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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs