The truth about the graduate jobs market

One of the fallacies of the recent economic disaster is that there are no longer any jobs out there for Irish graduates. No jobs, no economy, no future – renew your passport, pack your bags and pick your emigrant nation of choice.

This simply is not true. Graduates are still in demand. It’s true that the overall number of jobs and places on graduate schemes has fallen. But there are still roles for recent graduates, and certain employers are struggling to fill their graduate roles with the quality of candidate they are seeking. Why is this? And why is this not being widely reported?

Let’s deal with the second question first. The media have a job to do and a story to tell, and no-one can blame the Irish media for ploughing their furrow of misery and sticking to it – there’s been plenty to keep them going. Emigration, unemployment, rising taxes… Reporting that employers are having problems filling graduate roles does not sit well in the context of these issues. But, in a few instances, this is the case.

Many will be surprised to hear this, but the number of graduate jobs listed on gradireland.com has consistently been considerably higher over the last few months than the preceding 12 months – an average of 152 jobs each day in November 2010 against 119 in November 2009; an average of 174 jobs each day in December 2010 against 94 in December 2009; and for January 2011, an average of 142 jobs each day against 86 in January 2010.

Some of these opportunities are internships – approximately 20 per cent on average – and some are opportunities outside Ireland, mainly in the UK (about 5 per cent). But our experience in working with students and employers is that there is a gap between the reality of the graduate job market, and students’ perceptions of career opportunities in Ireland. Certain sectors are thriving, including IT, professional services and accountancy. Around 20 per cent of jobs advertised on gradireland.com require IT qualifications (though may not be jobs in IT); and engineering and financial management qualifications remain sought after.

Do not misunderstand – times for the class of 2010/2011 are tough, and will remain so. But hopefully this will redress the perception balance slightly, and give hope to those of you still looking to build a career in Ireland.

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