Traditionally Travellers have worked as tinsmiths, chimney sweeps, flower sellers, farm workers, horse dealers and sheet-music sellers at markets and fairs. Today much has changed. Many families are involved in gathering and selling scrap, dealing in carpets or antiques, laying tarmacadam, making carts and trailers, while some still work at the markets and others deal in horses. Some Travellers are also involved in providing a service to their own community i.e. As youth and community workers, civil servants, childcare assistants in pre-school and in health promotion work and others are employed within the mainstream workforce.
The essential characteristic of Travellers’ economic base is self-employment.
Due to their culture and nomadic lifestyle, Travellers tend to be self-employed and pick up work according to their situation and circumstances. Many Travellers use wherever they are living as a base from which to travel out to markets or to collect scrap.
- Approximately 50% of scrap metal collected and supplied to scrap merchants is collected by the Traveller community.
- Approximately 400 jobs in the settled community are generated by Traveller recycling initiatives.
- Approximately €8 million is generated in the Irish economy through Travellers working with scrap.
Recycling and the Traveller Economy Pavee Point Publications
Lack of formal and inclusive education, along with discrimination, are some of the main reasons why many Travellers do not take up some of the mainstream jobs in society.
Work is a good thing for all…a good thing for our humanity because through work we not only transform nature, adapting it to our own needs but we also achieve fulfilment as human beings
John Paul II,1981