A seminar was hosted on October 22nd, in the Royal College of Surgeons, by EIL Ireland on the subject of ‘Ireland’s Struggle with Foreign Languages,’ with input from academia, industry and graduates on the low priority which languages are given within the Irish education system and efforts to address this situation. As an island nation dependent on service industries and overseas markets, the challenge for Ireland is that less than half the EU population know English well enough to be able to communicate. In the world of international business, where the competence of English is increasingly taken for granted, it is companies with additional language capabilities that will enjoy a competitive advantage.
The panel discussion was chaired by Joe Humphrey’s of the Irish Times and was primarily focused on the forthcoming framework document on foreign languages in Irish education. Much of the discussion revolved around asking at which point pupils and students should be introduced to languages.
Of particular interest to graduates was the contribution of final year TCD Law and German student, Seánie Kylie, who spoke of his experiences of the Irish educational system in terms of languages. “There is too much of an emphasis on the technicalities of languages and not enough on the desirability of languages. There needs to be more of a focus on the appeal of languages as opposed to just the necessity, languages have a history and a culture of their own, reflective of the people that speak them and that’s what we should be highlighting.”
Tony O’Donohoe, Head of Education and Social Policy with IBEC said that while Ireland continued to attract world-class investment in the shape of multinational companies, these companies “are bemoaning the skills shortage in Ireland when it comes to languages. They find it extremely difficult to fill talent gaps with Irish candidates.” He went on to say that the lack of language fluency does not just impact on foreign companies doing business here but also was to the detriment of the development of Ireland’s own export economy. “It’s a fact that 85% of exports from Ireland are from non-national companies. It is vital that Ireland starts growing its indigenous export sector. The lack of languages is a barrier to this, with many SME’s not considering markets where they perceive that there may be a language barrier.” Mr O’Donohoe added that it is incumbent on the educational system, and indeed pupils and students themselves, to being to address this issue, because “75% of the world’s population do not speak English, and only 9% speak it as their first language.” He welcomed the fact that discussion on languages was taking place, adding that it is ‘the elephant in the living room.’
Other speakers at the event included Tanya Flanagan, Communications Officer with One Voice For Languages (OVFL), who spoke of the need for languages to be taught at a much earlier age, while Philippe Milloux, Director of Alliance Francaise, said that there was a definite need to “change the perception of a language as just a school subject.”
EIL Ireland organised the event as part of marking their 50th anniversary in Ireland, with over 30,000 students having taken part in their programmes. The EIL Study Abroad programme primarily focuses on language immersion programmes abroad for post-primary students. EIL say that their experience of running these programmes has given them “very direct experience of the challenges and struggles we face as a nation in relation to foreign language skills.”
For more on how your career can develop with languages, download our ‘Careers with Languages’ publication here, watch our videos on the benefits of languages and visit our languages sector page on gradireland.com. gradireland has forthcoming careers with languages fairs in NUIG on November 5th and UCC on November 6th.
IntertradeIreland’s Foot In The Door initiative offers a host of dynamic graduate programmes through its FUSION (Science, Engineering and Technology) initiative, with roles available throughout the Republic and Northern Ireland. FUSION roles incorporate a paid placement, of 12 to 18 month duration, with a Postgraduate Diploma in Business and Management, from a selected college. In the FUSION programme, graduates are placed within SME companies to create and develop technologically innovative, commercially targeted products and services and to gain project management experience. Graduates who earn a place on the FUSION programme are supported by both the company and an academic mentor, from a university of college who have specialist expertise in that area.
So how do I get on the FUSION Programme?
The application for FUSION is a two-step process, consisting of an online application form and, if that phase is successful, an interview with the company for whom you wish to work. As is the case with any application process, your application must meet certain basic criteria to be considered for the programme. So take your time, assess what the requirements are and give clear, honest and unambiguous answers in relation to the essential and desirable criteria which are listed for each job description. If you do this properly and make your application straightforward for the person considering it, you put yourself in with a chance right away. As always, don’t forget the basics; grammar, punctuation, spelling and clarity!
Now for the interview…
Since the FUSION programme is all about collaboration; your communication skills, your ‘emotional intelligence’, your project management savvy and your teamwork strengths all come to the fore during the interview process. So make sure you prepare how you can demonstrate these traits before you sit in front of an interview panel. It will also be vital that you clearly show that you understand what the FUSION programme is all about and what its objectives and purposes are, and of course, how much you want to be a part of it. Ensure you have done adequate research on the company too, what they do, what their market position is, what their ambitions are and, if possible, what sort of culture is in place.
It’s also very important to remember that the FUSION programme is not just about a job, postgraduate study is built into each of the FUSION placements. The programme is constructed in this way because all participant companies in FUSION believe in the importance and value of further study within the context of the placement. So ensure you display your motivation to continue to learn and undertake the Diploma in Business & Management, it’s a key part of the interview process.
There’s less than 24 hours to go before the doors open at the gradireland Graduate Careers Fair 2014, Ireland’s largest careers fair. Doors open at 11am tomorrow at the RDS Simmonscourt, Dublin 4.
With over 120 exhibitors, the 2014 gradireland Graduate Careers fair is a must-attend event, whether you’re seeking a job or are interested in further study. With over 120 exhibitors waiting to talk to you, the fair offers a unique opportunity for you to meet with employers and course providers and gain unique insider knowledge.
We also have a host of informative, engaging seminars throughout the day, designed to aid you in areas such as; creating the right job application, how to stand out in interviews, how to succeeed in assessment centres, or how to study in the USA, to name but a few. Find out what’s on here.
There is currently massive growth in the graduate recruitment sector, and there will be more than 3,000 jobs available on the day at the gradireland Graduate Careers Fair.
Mark Mitchell, gradireland publisher, says: “The rebound in graduate employment can be seen in the amount of companies seeking to take on new graduates.
“In 2009, over 40pc of firms surveyed were not interested in hiring graduates,” he said.
But Mr Mitchell says this figure has now plummeted to just 5pc.
“In 2011, almost half (47pc) of companies surveyed said that they were recruiting fewer or no graduates because of the economic climate. That figure now stands at just 7.4pc. So, we would urge graduates, and other jobseekers, to come down to the RDS tomorrow and see what recruiters are looking for. With seminars and a Cv Clinic, and all for free, there really is something for everyone on the day.”
Register by midnight on Tuesday, October 7th for free entry, just click here. Bring along either a printout of your ticket or simply show the ticket on your phone to gradireland staff at the door. If you haven’t registered, you can do so on the day and there is a €5 admission fee.
Get involved on the day by joining the discussion on Twitter at #gradfair
The brand new gradireland & postgradireland directory is on 3rd level campuses throughout Ireland now. The official careers and further study directory for students and graduates in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the directory is packed with 1000’s of jobs and courses in addition to 180 pages of advice and information on everything you need to know, whether you’re still considering which career path to follow, embarking on your job hunt or are taking on postgraduate study.
The gradireland directory is the first in a series of print and downloadable titles, aimed at providing you with the information you need to make an informed decision on your career or further study, with guides on sectors including; Finance, IT, Law, Engineering and our new guide to career opportunities with languages. Pick up your copy today from your Careers Service or download from gradireland.com .
An article by Breda O’Brien in last week’s Irish Times revisited the thorny, and sometimes emotive, issue of unpaid internships. Branding them ‘wrong’, O’Brien went on to say; “what’s shocking is how many of our bright, talented children have come to accept the concept of working for nothing, when they should be mad as hell.”
There is bad news and good news when it comes to unpaid internships. The bad news is that yes, unsurprisingly, they do exist and there are graduates and jobseekers out there getting exploited by unscrupulous companies. The good news is that there is evidence that such cases are declining in number, employers value good interns and are more and more willing to pay them. How do we know this? Because we talked to a wide range of companies as part of our soon to be released 2014 gradireland Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey and the results point to an ever changing dynamic in the relationship between internship and employer.
But let’s first look at the broader internships issue. In the current jobs market; internships, or work experience as it used to be known, are accepted as an integral part of graduate recruitment for the majority of employers. Many companies use work experience to source good talent at an early stage and even when recruitment may be minimised or frozen, many companies do continue to recruit for internships. Of the leading graduate employers who we talked to, 81% offer internships, an overwhelming majority, but down from the 87% in last year’s survey. 35.5% of those who are recruiting interns expect to increase their intake this year.
Interestingly, only 10.4% of employers we surveyed did not pay their interns. In more good news, of the 89.6% who do pay for internships (up from 86% last year), our 2014 results show that pay scales are rising. The median pay for interns now stands at between €1,400 and €1,599, with almost 40% of the companies in our survey paying at this level. Indeed the higher pay scales for interns have jumped significantly. Last year only 8.2% of companies paid interns between €1,800 and €1,999, this year it is 15.6%. In 2013, only 4.1% paid their interns over €2,000, this year that figure jumped to 10.9%. At the lower end of the scale there have also been significant developments. Almost a quarter of the companies surveyed last year paid their interns less than €1,000 per month, this year that figure has dropped to just 4.7%, a dramatic fall.
The ‘JobBridge’ scheme has come in for withering criticism over recent times, much of it justified owing to, again, the actions of some unscrupulous employers. We found that while it remains popular, less than half of the employers (46%) we talked to were planning to participate in the scheme. We also found that almost all employers (97%) placed a clear distinction between internship programmes and JobBridge schemes, and did not use JobBridge recruits to replace existing interns.
While this research only provides a snapshot, it does include feedback from over 15 major sectors of Irish business and industry. So, if you’re a graduate considering an internship, what questions should you be asking? Firstly, make sure you know what you are going in to. Is it a structured internship, is there an induction, training and development programme in place? Will you be mentored during your internship? These are vital supports for graduates, and induction programmes are offered by 91.2% of the companies gradireland surveyed. If a company can provide you with structured training and development, you may need to be prepared to work for a lower rate of pay, or even unpaid, for a period of time. I would say that you need to consider this in the broader context of your career path, and if you feel that the training and development which you will receive is something that you can’t get elsewhere. If a company is investing their time in developing your skills, that is worth something, it will boost your employability skills and those skills are what employers are looking for. A graduate jobseeker needs to show that they are active and effective, and thankfully it is increasingly common to be paid whilst gaining this experience.
For more information on internships, read our advice here
As a worthwhile tool for graduates and jobseekers, the importance of LinkedIn can really not be overstated. Although it’s been around for quite some time, its power as an enabler for applicants and recruiters is still growing. Paul McClatchie, Director at Careers Register (the Financial & Legal Recruitment arm of Cpl Resources Plc), talks to gradireland about the difference a good LinkedIn Profile can make and where it sits within the recruitment process.
Online recruitment and applications processes have come a long way in recent years. gradireland’s own data shows that more and more companies are eschewing the traditional CV and cover letter in favour of online applications. Recruiters are always looking for well curated, impressively written applications, and are constantly looking for candidates that differentiate themselves and offer that little bit extra. This is where LinkedIn comes in. “For us, it’s a way of speeding up the recruitment process, it’s a very useful enabler for us when searching for a candidate with specific skills or qualifications or who has completed a certain course. It’s also very important for candidates to remember that employers themselves will very often look at a candidate’s LinkedIn profile, so it’s important that it looks professional, current and comprehensive,” says Paul.
Before you start, why not create a ‘word cloud’ of your skills and attributes from your CV and highlight the ones that you want to jump out at recruiters on your LinkedIn profile. “It’s a good exercise to create a blueprint for the sort of image you want to create and it also gives you the opportunity to think about what skills you have and, also, what gaps you may need to fill,” adds Paul.
So what sort of LinkedIn profile can make you seem like the right fit to recruiters? You’ve probably heard of an ‘all-star’ LinkedIn profile, but what exactly is this?
Photo: “Well it starts with a good picture. LinkedIn is different to other social networks; it’s a professional network, so pictures should reflect this. It’s not necessary to be formal, but smart, relaxed and smiling is what I like to see. People are less likely to look at your profile if you don’t have a photograph or if the photo is inappropriate. Remember, LinkedIn isn’t Facebook. This is the image of yourself that you want to convey to the professional world.”
Headline: “Describe yourself and what you’re looking for. Customise your headline to reflect the opportunities you’re seeking. Don’t just have ‘college graduate.’ Instead, something like “Commerce graduate with business experience seeking opportunities in corporate finance.”
Summary: “Ensure this is complete and matches your own timeline of education and employment. The tone should be conversational and engaging, while remaining professional.”
Reverse engineer your profile: “Find out what skills people working in the industry in which you want to work have. Then try to match as many of your skills as possible to make your profile seem appealing to employers. It’s not a case of creating an impression of something you’re not, but instead it’s a curating process to tailor your profile for the industry in which you want to work.”
Post content: “Get involved. Whether it’s posting relevant content of work you’ve done on your profile or contributing to discussions, interaction shows initiative and communication skills. Join relevant groups and if there is a discussion ongoing, join in. Post frequently if you feel you can make a contribution, it increases your visibility on LinkedIn searches.”
Connect responsibly: “LinkedIn is a professional network and there is a level of etiquette as to how you should connect, or request to connect, with somebody. It’s important that you don’t seem too familiar. For example, don’t try and connect with someone from a company with which you have an interview. It can be off-putting. Also, when you do connect with someone, personalise the connection by sending them a brief message, as simple as: ‘nice to connect with you and good to see you at the event this morning. Look forward to staying in touch in the future.’”
There are plenty of other ways you can make your profile stand out. Do some research on the sector you want to work in and look at good profiles in that sector. Use some keywords in your own profile as keywords are how many recruiters are searching for candidates on the platform. “It’s important not to overstate LinkedIn’s importance, a poor profile is not a deal breaker for a very good candidate and a good profile is not going to save a very poor application. But it’s a tool that can add depth to a candidate and provide information that may increase their attractiveness to employers,” adds Paul.
Earlier this year, a range of employers, academics and students met in DIT Cathal Brugha Street to discuss and formulate the attributes that they consider most important in a graduate recruit. This event was part of DIT’s ‘Enhancing Employability’ initiative. The desired qualities which emerged from the presentations and discussions were wide ranging, and though some are obvious, others are surprising. Check out the infographic below, and let us know what you think. Do you agree or disagree?
For more on what employers are looking for in graduate recruits, read here.