6 skills graduates need to work in the food and drink sector

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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


Forget the corporation tax debate; our graduates should take full advantage of multinational opportunities


In a week where the whole issue of tax being paid overseas was thrown into the limelight with the comments by Minister for Social Welfare Joan Burton regarding U2 having their tax affairs handled in the Netherlands, a UK Parliamentary Committee has also summoned Google to appear before it to explain why it has paid virtually no tax there despite accumulating €13 billion in revenue over the past six years. It turns out it’s paying its taxes here due to its European HQ being based in Dublin.  With Ireland’s low corporate tax rate renowned, revered, and in places envied, across Europe, we are well used to the continuing debate over how much tax global corporations with major European operations pay here.

The facts are that resident multinationals here represent a virtual roll-call of the rich and famous of the technology, pharmaceutical and finance sectors; including Facebook, Google, LinkedIn, eBay, PayPal, Abbott, GlaxoSmithKline, Accenture, KPMG, JP Morgan. In yesterday’s edition of the Sunday Business Post, Adrian Weckler wrote a comment piece stating essentially that it’s high time that Ireland stopped feeling guilty about our privileged position as a global hub in these fields and realise that these companies are “national, strategic assets in Ireland, as important to Dublin (and other Irish cities) as agriculture and tourism are to rural counties.”

For graduates, this landscape multinationals on our doorstep represents considerable opportunity. For overseas companies, the groundwork for them moving to Ireland, in addition to the obvious tax based incentives, is often laid by hard-working overseas trade delegations and IDA lobbying which focuses heavily on the quality of the workforce. Fidelity Investments International are currently seeking 50 more employees to add to the 250 they have nationwide and, also speaking to the Sunday Business Post yesterday, its President, Travis Carpico made comments which can only be interpreted as positive for both jobseekers and graduate jobseekers. “We came to Ireland in 1996. It was our first foray into accessing non-US talent. The things that you hear from the IDA are actually true. You have a highly educated workforce, a great work ethic and mesh well culturally with US multinationals and the way they like to go after things. Obviously there have been a lot of changes in Ireland over the past 17 years but the fundamentals of Ireland in terms of education, infrastructure and the business environment and the level of talent haven’t changed.”

The ten biggest high-tech firms are openly seeking to fill over 600 positions, pharmaceutical multinationals have over 110 positions available and the financial giants such as Deloitte and BNY Mellon and others have over 300 positions available. While many of these positions are for experienced professionals, most of those recruiting also offer graduate programmes which provide a wealth of real-world experience, great training and long term job opportunities. The average salary for graduates is between €24,000 to €26,000 but the number of graduates being taken on with salaries over €34,000 has increased by over 6% between 2011 and 2012. With a fragile economic recovery still in its early stages and an unemployment rate that is still unacceptably high, firms that provide employment, opportunity and considerable boosts for local businesses by their very presence need to be embraced and their opportunities exploited by the highly skilled graduates and jobseekers that our universities produce. As Adrian Weckler said in his column yesterday “there are times when national interest competes with -and overrides- solidarity with EU members, even when they get into a scrape over tax avoidance. So Britain’s MP’s and its media may be ticked off with Google. But that’s not our problem.”

To search for graduate jobs and for more on graduate recruitment and the application process, visit www.gradireland.com

Rewarding Achievement and Recognising Ambition

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