THE Government has been accused of presiding over a graduate "brain drain".
Unemployment among graduates has almost trebled in the past two years, and student leaders say more and more college leavers are being forced to quit the country.
Central Statistics Office (CSO) figures reveal there were 68,600 unemployed graduates in March, compared with 25,400 at the same time in 2008.
The jobs problem is greater for males, who account for 60pc of out-of-work graduates, up from 56pc two years ago.
The Economic and Social Research Institute recently warned that 200,000 people may be forced to emigrate between now and 2015 if unemployment is not addressed.
And the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) says many of these will be highly skilled graduates.
USI president Gary Redmond said it was ironic the Jeanie Johnston famine ship was docked in Dublin's IFSC, the area that was once the heart of Ireland's Celtic Tiger economy.
USI members are planning a protest at the ship today to highlight the plight of graduates forced to leave the country in search of work.
Mr Redmond said CSO figures for June showed that 91,646 people under the age of 25 were unemployed. He said the Government continued to pay lip service to ambitions of building a knowledge-based economy.
"Their silence on the issue of graduate unemployment is deafening. USI is not prepared to stand idly by while this Government oversees the loss of yet another generation of young Irish men and women," he said.
The unemployment figures may not reflect the full picture as many graduates are now staying in college to pursue further education, in the hope of an upturn in coming years.
A recent survey found job prospects and starting salaries for graduates were slowly picking up.
Companies preparing for economic recovery in the second half of the year are getting ready to boost staffing -- 34pc of employers predict that they will be recruiting more graduates in 2010, compared with 15pc in the same period in 2009.
Report by Katherine Donnelly - Irish Independent