Sunday, March 3, 2024

The Generation Game – Have Ireland’s Generation Z been fooled?

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The recent RTÉ 1 television series Best Place to Be, presented by Baz Ashmawy (RTÉ Player), had interesting subplots throughout the show.

While the series is ostensibly about Irish people building new lives in various European countries, it also reflects on some of the reasons why many of those same people decided to leave Ireland and rise up.

Indeed, you would feel that if the program’s budget had been expanded to include Australia, much the same message would emerge about Irish people in Australia.

One of the recurring themes in the series was the “conversations” about what inspired people to move. In addition to the usual desire to experience different countries and cultures, there was also a persistent theme of how difficult it is to actually find a place to live in Ireland. Unsurprisingly, the prospect of living upstairs in a box room from her 20s to her 30s has been a major driving force in the lives of Gen Z and their Millennial brethren.

Thus, one participant talked about how he went from paying €560 to rent a room in a house share in Cork to now paying €900 to rent an entire apartment in Turin, northern Italy. did. Another said he paid 850 euros for a single-person apartment in Berlin. There were similar stories about childcare fees and many other things.

There was also a sense that Irish people who worked hard for decent wages were being punished at every turn by the Irish state for their efforts. Billed as a progressive and inclusive economic miracle, Ireland is more concerned with valuing the valuable characteristics associated with progressive ideology than with caring for the ordinary Davids and Niamhs who wake up to work every day. Looks like you’re spending a lot of your capital.

No wonder Gen Z is angry. Not only are many of them unlikely to be able to live independently outside the homes in which they grew up, there is every indication that they will end up significantly poorer than their parents.

The area of ​​pension provision is also not good for them. Not only are they more likely to be in precarious employment than their parents, but on top of that, larger demographic challenges related to declining birth rates loom.

It’s not because Gen Z isn’t trying hard enough. This generation has invested heavily in education, especially third-level education. While their parents’ generation was accustomed to work and started considering things like getting married and buying a home at age 21, Gen Zers are typically still completing their first graduate degrees at the same age.

In fact, one of the hallmarks of Gen Z’s life is the god-like status of third-level education. This means that an undergraduate degree is now usually followed by a near-required “master’s” degree. Many people now complete not one but several “masters” before taking on a full-time job. Many people who enter the job market in their mid-20s will find that their income does not exceed minimum wage by much.

One of the most insidious recent developments is in the area of ​​qualification inflation. The problem today is that in terms of employment, a master’s degree is now probably as valuable as his elementary degree from 10 years ago. 20 years ago he would have had a Leaving Cert doing the same kind of work, and 30 years before him a Junior Cert or Inter Cert would have done much the same thing.

No one is saying that there are no benefits to education, especially higher education, but we also need to be realistic, and many of the courses currently offered at third level You need to realize that you are benefiting the institution that runs it more than the institution that is paying for it. In short, secondary education has become an industry unto itself, and students and their paying parents are not necessarily the main beneficiaries of that industry.

But their anger at their parents’ generation for the situation they find themselves in is clearly misplaced. Their parents are also embarking on a new generation’s journey, spending thousands of dollars of their savings on educational courses that don’t necessarily lead to jobs.

They will also continue to live and support their adult children into their 20s and 30s. Even if adult children are able to purchase a home, they often need the help of their mother and father’s bank.

Getting angry at Ireland is also not a rational response. Countries do not create unaffordable rents, insecure employment, or the persistent feeling that their abilities and efforts are always being punished.

It is the result of a country’s particular political culture. In Ireland’s case, the political culture since the 1990s has been centre-left on economic issues and liberal on social issues.

This is the political culture that has shaped the lives of Gen Z over the past 25 years, with previously conservative, right-leaning parties such as Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil becoming essentially political players. became the Labor Party’s version.

The thing about Ireland today is that while it was clearly a disaster for many, it was a very good situation for some. Take Ireland’s socialist bigwigs, for example. Not only do they have the satisfaction of seeing the state adopt their ideology without question, but they also end up earning six-figure salaries as heads of NGOs and gold-plated presidential pensions many times that amount. It’s also the people. Average industrial wage.

For Gen Z, talk of “choice” and “equality” is difficult given their living conditions and the fact that many of them seem destined to spend their 20s and 30s in an upstairs box room. It seems particularly cruel. Perhaps for Gen Z, it really is time for a change after all.





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