The future jobs landscape: what’s in store for the class of 2020?

What jobs will be in demand for the graduate of 2020?


An article in last week’s Irish Times advised college students to pursue languages, learn IT skills, examine the burgeoning construction sector or get excited about engineering. That’s where, it is forecast, the jobs will be in 2019 or 2020, when the current intake of first year students graduate. Planning ahead is very important for first year students. The benefits of early engagement with careers advisers and potential employers at college is becoming increasingly apparent, with more companies making their presence felt on campus early in a student’s college life, and these same companies also view students who get active and stay involved with all aspects of college life and career planning as valuable future employee prospects. A student who is engaged early with their careers advisor will obviously be far more likely to be in tune with the employment landscape and where the jobs are being created. So how is this landscape shaping up?

According to Una Halligan, chair of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN); languages, IT (particularly data skills), construction, engineering, surveying and architecture are all disciplines with a healthy prognosis for the future. For languages, she told the Irish Times that English simply isn’t “good enough any more” and if we want to sell  ourselves at international level, students need to take what language skills they have at Leaving Cert level and work to develop them, even if they are not studying them at university. She suggests Erasmus programmes, fitting a language module into your studies or working overseas during the summer, anything that adds a level of immersion to your linguistic abilities. At gradireland we have been reinforcing the importance of languages over the past 18 months, with our languages fairvideos on the subject and articles on what differences languages have made to a student’s career. For our ‘Your career with languages’ sector guide, we spoke to graduates like Constance O’Brien of Slaney Foods International, who told us; “Initiating business with international clients through their own native language is a common courtesy that can often work to secure profitable and long standing business relationships in the future. If you want to travel for work, which is one of the main aspects I love most about my job, languages are obviously a distinct advantage, but even if you want to stay in Ireland, languages are still a great advantage to your career.”

Besides language skills, Una Halligan also earmarked IT as a sector that will continue to grow and require new graduate talent, particularly in the data sector, with the insurance, finance and banking sectors all requiring data analysts, with mathematical and statistical skills particularly in demand. This backs up the EGFSN and Forfás data from May of 2014 which said that Ireland has the potential to create 21,000 jobs by 20202 in the area of ‘big data.’ This finding anticipates 3,630 positions for ‘deep analytical roles’ and 17,470 for data ‘savvy’ roles. Find out more about the IT landscape in the gradireland IT sector guide.

Sectors such as biopharma and medical devices are also undergoing large recruitment drives, with skills such as electronic engineering and quality engineering in massive demand, added Una Halligan.

She added that the resurgent construction sector was seeing growth now that was more ‘measured’ than the explosion which preceded the financial crisis. Indeed the construction sector became the poster child for all that went wrong. With the resurgence in construction, the EGFSN are also predicting a knock-on boost for related disciplines such as quantity surveying and architecture. “By the time students graduate from quantity surveying or architecture courses, they will be coming out in a healthy position and those skills will always be wanted worldwide.” Una Halligan also reinforced the importance, where possible, of students studying a technical subject alongside an arts’ or humanities subject. Or if that is not possible, for students to get a part-time job that will exercise their technical or IT skills. “Those who do this will be work-ready when they leave college,” she added. Employability is what it is all about these days after all, and that is one thing that will not change for the class of 2019/2020

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