Where are the gaps for graduates? Report on the National Skills Bulletin 2013

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There is an increasingly diverse range of opportunities for graduates in the Irish labour market compared with previous years, according to the recently published National Skills Bulletin, compiled by the Expert Group for Future Skills Needs (EGFSN). This year’s bulletin points to a more flexible jobs market and more work opportunities for those seeking employment. The figures indicate that overall market stability has improved in 2012 and, what’s more, graduates who pursue a course of study up to honours level 8 (National Framework Qualifications, see image below) are more likely to find employment following graduation.

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Where are the jobs?

As expected, some sectors indicate more demand than others, notably information and computer technology (ICT), engineering, finance, business, health and increasingly cross-discipline skills such as ICT and a language or engineering with a bio-medical focus.

Information Technology

This demand complements gradireland’s research into graduate recruitment, as published in our 2013 directory, and we know that the IT and accountancy/financial management companies are currently recruiting the most graduates. In terms of trends the Bulletin says; ‘Over the period 2007-2012 the ICT sector recorded the strongest growth, adding 11,000 net jobs.’

This is consistent with the establishment of European headquarters for many of the world’s biggest technology, internet and social media enterprises in Dublin, and our healthy start-up culture. Many IT companies also report that they are unable to fill vacancies due to skills shortages in this area, especially with regard to mobile technology, cloud computing and web development, making these skills particularly marketable for graduates.

Engineering

Another sector that has seen increased demand according to the Bulletin is the engineering sector, both at professional and technician level and especially in the areas of medical devices, polymer technology and pharmaceutical manufacturing. This is supported by the increasing amount of pharmaceutical and bio-medical device manufacturing companies in Ireland, such as GmbH and Vistacon. Additional sectors which indicate demand are food technology and quality control. According to the National Skills Bulletin; ‘there is a demand for engineering expertise combined with the skills necessary for interaction with customers.’

This reflects the trend for integrated professional development modules within engineering programmes in many institutions.

Bringing it home

Overall, the report’s authors say that graduates have a more favourable position in the labour market than in recent years and despite the fact that many vacancies are quite specialised, there are still considerable opportunities for students from a broad range of disciplines. ‘Although the (skills) shortages continue to be primarily confined to niche skill areas and in most instances remain of low magnitude, this year’s Bulletin highlights the persistence of skills shortages in the areas of ICT, science, engineering, sales, marketing, business, finance and healthcare.’

However, those students graduating with language skills are also being favoured by many global players, who offer employment opportunities in a variety of sectors including sales, IT, customer service and PR and marketing.

Getting Experience

Ireland’s recent economic turmoil has resulted in some advantages for graduates, the silver lining being that employers are now recruiting graduates through graduate schemes and internships all year round rather than just through the traditional ‘milkround’. This is significant as employers now consider work experience to be of complementary value to skills obtained in third level. Una Halligan, Chairperson of the EGFSN confirms this; ‘What is worth noting is the continuing emphasis by employers on the importance of work experience. Recruiters are not only looking for appropriately qualified staff but also employability skills gained through work placements.’

Contrary to popular opinion it seems there are indeed jobs for graduates, if you know where to look. Although many areas are specialised, there are no shortage of postgraduate courses tailored to these areas and many come in the form of conversion courses, taught masters and higher diplomas. Queens University offers a Software Development conversion course, while NCAD offers a postgraduate course in Medical Device Design and Trinity College Dublin offers a cross discipline course in Health Informatics. If further study isn’t for you, there are great graduate programmes in these areas too. Ericsson for example has opportunities in research and software development – typically for engineering and computer science students. BNY Mellon on the other hand, offers careers in financial services from a range of disciplines, including business and a language and international commerce courses.

A wide range of graduate jobs and postgraduate study opportunities can be found at gradireland.com and postgradireland.com.



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