The Food and Drink sector is growing and thriving with new opportunities for graduates developing all the time. However, as Hannah Kelly explains, a new report has highlighted skill gaps graduates will need to fill if they are to be successful in the industry.
The recently released Food Wise 2025,a report compiled by the Department of Agriculture & Food, sets out a plan for the development of the agri-food industry over the next decade, said they expect to see a further 23,000 jobs created, including the creation of additional graduate programmes, over the next ten years in the Irish Food and Beverage Sector.
“The Food and Drink sector has grown strongly over the period from 2010 to 2016 and has recovered”, the report said. “Employment in the sector increased to 54,000 in 2016, an increase of 6,600 from 2009.”
To achieve further growth though, it was stressed that gaps in skills required for the sector need to be addressed. Graduates eager to work in this sector should aim to focus on developing skills in the following areas that the report highlighted:
- Think internationally: Develop your knowledge of, and skills in, international trade and logistics. Companies also place a high emphasis on language and multi-cultural skills. More specifically in this area you should work on developing experience in customer management, dealing with international customers and suppliers and supply management.
- Innovation: In particular, companies are looking for graduates with production development skills. More specifically the report identified gaps in portfolio management, packaging technology and design engineering. Talk to your careers advisor or look up companies who could help you bridge this skills gap.
- IT and Numeracy: Employers are looking for graduates with good numeracy and IT skills no matter what section of the company you’ll be in. These skills are particularly useful as companies seek to merge roles within their organisations through automated manufacturing procedures.
- Supply Chain Management: Focus on customer requirements and standards, managing money effectively and reducing inventory levels. These are all skills companies are looking for in potential employees no matter what part of the business you might be working in.
- Leadership: In the gradireland Graduate Salary and Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey, we found that 37.1% of employers identified lack of leadership hard skill shortfalls. Being able to demonstrate the potential to lead a team is important as both more strategic and engaged leadership is a skill gap identified in the industry.
- Financial and Commercial Acumen: As mentioned above, a lot of companies are moving towards less structured roles, with cross-functional teams and a broader variety of work the ever increasing norm. This means no matter where you are in the business; you’ll be expected to have good financial and commercial judgement.
For more information on different career sectors visit: https://gradireland.com/career-sectors
The gradireland GRADchances IT event showcased the skills of students and the needs of employers in a vibrant and growing tech-sector, writes Fergal Browne.
This event was held on January 29th at Chartered Accountants House, on Dublin’s Pearse Street, with over 70 specially selected students and five major technology employers present.
“The IT sector is booming. There’s a lot of jobs out there, so it’s just a matter of gaining the necessary skills, putting together a strong application and communicating well”, says Joanne Anderson who is doing a Honours degree in Computing at National College of Ireland.
“The industry has performed well, even during the recession”, says Trevor Joy, a Digital Forensics and Cyber Security student in IT Blanchardstown. “Even through those difficult times, the industry continued to grow”, he adds.
“It’s still a challenge though, because you’re competing for jobs not just with Irish applicants, but with applicants from all over the world. But there are definitely jobs out there and tech-security, I believe, will be the buzz word over the next five years or so,” Trevor added.
The annual IT event run by gradireland brings together pre-selected, soon-to-be graduate, IT students with employers eager to promote their businesses and graduate programmes.
“Nowadays, competition is fierce and we are competing with a lot of other big-name companies so it’s an opportunity to interact and engage with students and give them an insight into what we do”, says Denise Airlie from software development company, Guidewire.
A diverse range of businesses participated in the event, ranging from communications company Ericsson to Smyths Toystore, reflecting the range of sectors that IT transcends.
“IT is required across every field and is one of the strongest and most diverse sectors in which to work”, says Swati Sehgal, who is currently doing a Masters in Computer Science in Trinity College, and says she is “very optimistic” of employment after graduation.
Companies not typically associated were IT were eager to demonstrate how important tech skills are to them.
“It’s probably something people don’t realise straight away, but we are a digital company”, says Katherine Norton, from Aer Lingus, which is currently accepting applications for its 2015 IT graduate programme.
This event is the first of two gradireland events in 2015 with a focus on technology. The second, taking place on April 8th, will target the STEM sector (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths), and will offer IT students another chance to interact with some of Ireland’s top graduate employers.
As part of the GRADchances IT event, each employer set students a task where they were looking for them to demonstrate appropriate skills. “First of all we are looking for people with a strong technical aptitude. But we require our employees to become technical consultants, so communication and teamwork is very important also”, says Denise from Guidewire.
Aer Lingus set the task of students working in groups to come up with ‘the next big thing’ in mobile phone technology. “We are looking for people who are very good at problem-solving and are analytical. They have to have a passion for IT but also be aware of the business elements”, adds Katherine.
“Events like this are brilliant because IT is so vast in terms of the roles on offer. I feel I almost need to be in a company to see what I can offer them. Therefore, here it’s fantastic to see what companies are looking for and to see if I can demonstrate those abilities”, says Maurice Walsh, a final year student in Network Security and Digital Forensics.
“It’s great to have this first-hand knowledge of companies and to meet with them face-to-face to know what they’re looking for,” says Joanne. “It’s a great boost in terms of deciding on a future career.”