The Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation has defended the Government’s record on job creation and protection.

Minister Batt O'Keeffe was speaking in response to a statement by the Union of Students of Ireland who were calling for more to be done to keep unemployed graduates from having to emigrate.

'I secured increased investment on enterprise and job creation initiatives under the six-year capital review plan announced last week,’ the minister said.

He said 270,000 jobs were being targeted during that period.

The Minister also said he was looking at removing 'barriers' to graduates taking up offers of job placements.

At a small demonstration in Dublin docklands, graduate students posed on the Jeanie Johnston famine ship to show that they are being forced to start new lives in other countries because of the lack of opportunities in Ireland.

USI President Gary Redmond said Minister O'Keeffe must develop workshare programmes and schemes to allow unemployed graduates to take on work in the public and private sector in order to gain experience, while retaining their jobseekers benefit.

USI said the protest aimed to highlight that Ireland is now losing the future drivers of the smart economy, with thousands of graduates having already left the country and many thousands more preparing to follow suit.