Ireland now has the second highest youth unemployment rate in Europe – Over the last six years, Ireland has seen huge changes in its economy, which has massively impacted the economic prospects of its population. Over 1 in 3 young men (aged between 18-25) are now unemployed, and many more are emigrating, as they see fewer employment prospects in Ireland. These young people are quickly forming a ‘forgotten generation’ where they are not getting the needed opportunities to master livelihood generating skills through their formative years.
Hemorrhaging of local wealth:
Ireland is also the second most oil dependent country in Europe, and imports over 90% of its energy requirements. As energy prices rise, this added burden strangles the real economy, and sucks much of the remaining wealth abroad to the energy producing nations.
Ireland’s unique position:
Paradoxically, Ireland has the ability to solve both of these problems using assets which are uniquely prominent here, more so than most other countries in Europe. These include a highly educated workforce, a favourable demographic situation, a strong history of grass-roots movements, and a very low ratio of population to productive land.
The era of expensive energy:
Since imported fossil fuel energy has become more expensive in recent years (oil – 15% yoy, natural gas 10% yoy, electricity 5% yoy), we are now approaching the point where it is cheaper for consumers to get some products locally, which only five years ago would not have been the case. Examples include wood for heating, locally produced food, or small scale electricity production, but there are many more.