National Skills Bulletin 2017

In Jobs, News by Denis Naughten

1 – Science Occupations

Shortage Indicators
Although science occupations account for a small share of overall employment (approximately 1% of national employment), these skills play a critical role in the performance and future growth of the high value added and exporting sectors of the economy, such as pharmaceuticals as well as in food processing. Although shortages have been identified in this area, they are small in number and are in niche areas.

Recruitment of scientists in 2016 was reflected in vacancy data for roles such as chemists (analytical, process, QA), microbiologists and lab technicians. There were 2,500 recent job hires in 2016 for professional scientist roles, all with third-level qualifications. Nonetheless, the high rates of turnover and the lack of employment growth for these occupations suggests that much of the demand is arising due to movements of those already in employment.

In terms of supply, there were almost 4,300 science graduates at level 8 and above in 2015, of which 700 were in biochemistry or chemistry. In addition, there were over 900 science graduates at levels 6 and 7. There were also over 300 third level qualified scientists who were job ready job seekers in April 2017. Over 80 employment permits were issued in 2016, primarily for chemists.

The skills in short supply chiefly related to experienced candidates (e.g. five years or more) and niche scientific areas typically associated with the pharmaceutical, bio- pharma and food innovation industries. In particular, there was a demand for scientists with experience in compliance, regulatory affairs and new product development.

Shortages in relation to the following job titles were identified:
• chemists/analytical scientists (especially product formulation, and analytical development for roles in biopharma)
• quality control analyst including pharma co-vigilance (i.e. drug safety) roles.
In summary, despite a lack of employment growth, these occupations are still in demand with some shortages occurring, albeit small in number.

2 – Engineering Occupations

Shortage Indicators.
Employment has been growing strongly in the selected engineering occupations in recent years. Over a half of those were working in the manufacturing sector, where employment growth in high-tech and medium high-tech manufacturing has been particularly strong over the most recent five-year period. Job announcements in the media in 2016 were most frequent in industry, primarily in the manufacture of medical devices, biotech, pharmaceutical, food/beverages and machinery/equipment with engineering roles announced including in R&D design, quality control and process engineers along with engineering technicians involved in testing.

Replacement demand in these occupations tends to be low, primarily due to a younger age cohort than the national average; turnover, however, is above average, particularly in relation to electrical and quality control engineers along with quality assurance technicians. Expansion demand, combined with a high level of movement between employers, is accounting for frequent vacancy notifications primarily for process, quality and project engineers. There were approximately 2,100 recent new hires in 2016 for professional engineers and a further 2,300 for technicians (two thirds of all engineering new hires held a third level honours degree or higher).
Employers are competing internationally for some niche engineering roles (primarily process and equipment engineers but also automation, project and mechanical engineers) with 434 new employment permits issued in 2016 for professionals in both industry and the ICT sector.

The number of third level engineering graduates is estimated at 5,000, more than half of which were at NFQ level 8 or higher; graduate output has been increasing in recent years (up by more than a half since 2010).
There are also two new NFQ level 7 apprenticeships in industrial electrical engineering and polymer processing technology. In addition, in April 2017, there were over 600 engineers (over half of whom held at least a degree-level (NFQ 7) qualification) and almost 700 engineering technicians (a third of whom held at least a degree-level (NFQ 7) qualification) who were job ready job seekers.

The demand for engineers, typically for roles in pharmaceutical and medical devices manufacturing, relates largely to those with significant experience (at least five years) in industry specific settings.

Shortages include
• process and design (including R&D)
• quality control/quality assurance (including standards, compliance and regulatory affairs, mostly EHS41 compliance)
• automation (including lean processes)
• validation/computer validation system (CVS), CQE (certified quality engineer) certification
• chemical engineers
• electrical engineers (safety, tech. specification, mechatronics – development and integration of mechanical, electrical and software systems; power generation and transmission)
• mechanical engineers: with skills and experience in polymer engineering and injection moulding
• technicians: quality assurance/control, process (e.g. injection moulding/polymer engineering), extrusion and maintenance.
There also appears to be an issue with geographical mobility and the ability to attract candidates to certain locations. 

3 – IT Occupations

Shortage Indicators
Almost a half of those employed in IT occupations were employed outside of the ICT sector, primarily in industry and financial activities. Employment in IT occupations is characterised by low replacement demand (the young age cohort means few are retiring and the occupations have a relatively low number of exits to study and home duties): these occupations also have a higher than average turnover rate, with movement between employers occurring more frequently than for professionals and associate professional occupations in general. While many IT occupations experienced little or no growth in recent years, employment growth was strong for programmers and software developers along with IT user support

The ICT sector accounted for approximately a quarter of all job announcements made in the media in 2016, with roles including IT security, data analytics, cloud computing, e- commerce (financial transactions / payments), telecommunications and Software as a Service (SaaS), along with a significant number of roles in IT contact centres. In addition, a number of job announcements in the financial sector were for IT roles such as cyber security and data/business analytics.

While employment expanded by 8,200 for the selected IT occupations over a five-year period, there were over 11,000 recent job hires in 2016, two thirds of which were for professional roles. Those recently hired tended to have third level qualifications (80%) and young (55% were aged less than 35 years).
Over 2,700 employment permits were issued to IT workers from outside the EEA in 2016, accounting for over a third of all new permits issued; of those issued to IT workers, 2,300 were for professionals and the remainder for managers or technicians.

In 2016, there were more than 4,600 third level graduates (comprised of HEA and private/independent third level institutions); of these, more than two thirds were at levels 8-10. In the FET sector, apprenticeships in development include network engineer, software developer and fintech associate professional, all at NFQ level 6. Total ICT apprenticeship enrolment over the coming years is expected to be 280. In April 2017, there were 1,245 job ready job seekers with previous experience in IT professional or managerial roles; of these, a half held at least a degree (NFQ 7). A further 1,000 job seekers had previous experience in IT technician roles, a third of whom held third level qualifications.

Despite significant graduate supply and a number of job ready job seekers with IT skills (many of whom, given the comparatively high turnover estimates, are likely to be only in frictional unemployment), shortages of IT skills continue to exist. IT skills are in demand across all economic sectors. Furthermore, the situation is not unique to Ireland as there is a shortage of IT skills internationally.

Shortages of the following skills have been identified:
• software developers: mobile (iOS/Android), database (with Oracle/SQL), web, cloud; with skills in Java, JavaScript, C++, .Net, PHP, CSS, F#, Python, and Ruby on Rails the most frequently mentioned
• engineers: network (Linux, Open Source), database, QA, automated performance testers, DevOps (developing/testing, process re-engineering and communication skills)
• systems/solutions architects, database architects (e.g. data centres/data warehousing)
• web design (niche areas only): particularly web related applications focusing on enhancing users’ online experience (UX) and supporting user interaction (UI) with 3-5 years’ experience
• InfoSec (IT security), IoT (internet of things), cyber security analyst, data/information security, network security
• business intelligence: BI solutions, big data analysts (e.g. Hadoop, Cassandra, SQL), ERP (enterprise resource planning) with SAP
• IT managers and business analysts (especially systems migration and IT project management e.g. waterfall and agile)
• IT technicians: troubleshooting, tech support with languages, particularly German and database administrators.

4 – Business and Financial Occupations

Shortage Indicators
The future demand for business and financial skills is likely to be particularly affected by the impact of Brexit. On the one hand, numerous financial institutions are expanding their business or setting up in Ireland, including JP Morgan, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, with IDA announcing in July 2017 that they have secured deals with more than a dozen London-based banks and finance houses to move some of their operations to Dublin in preparation for Brexit. On the other hand, a report by the Department of Finance (2016) states that insurance/financial services are one of the three services sector considered to be the most exposed in terms of exports to the UK. As such, the overall impact on skills requirements in the financial sector is yet unclear.
Employment growth for the selected occupations in the most recent five-years was below the national average, although this is primarily due to a continued fall in the numbers employed in financial administrative occupations. There were a relatively high number of movements between employers in 2016, particularly for business analysts, accountants and financial administration.

Vacancy notifications were also occurring frequently in 2016, for roles such as financial project managers, compliance/regulatory reporting and financial analysts. Despite the lack of employment growth, there were over 22,000 recent job hires in 2016, half of which related to accountants and financial administrative occupations; three quarters of those recently hired held third level qualifications.

While demand for general accounting skills is in decline with many tasks now being automated, there are increasing requirements in specific areas of accountancy and for those with crossover skills such as corporate resource managers. In terms of financial administrative occupations, current indicators point to an easing of shortages with little sign of employment growth. Although some employers have reported difficulty in sourcing suitable candidates for these roles, turnover appears to be a greater issue. However, financial administrators with multilingual skills appear to be still in demand. The demand for HR officers also appears to be easing with very little evidence of growth in employment numbers despite a high volume of vacancy notifications, suggesting that most vacancies are arising due to replacement, such as maternity cover.

There were 814 new employment permits issued to non-EEA nationals for work in the selected financial occupations (primarily in roles as business analysts/project managers and accountants) in 2016. The supply of skills from the education and training system is significant: in 2016, there were almost 22,000 further and higher education graduates from business and administrative courses, of which more than 12,000 were at NFQ level 8 or above. In addition, there are a number of new apprenticeships including insurance practitioner, accounting technician and international financial services associate spanning levels 6-8 on the NFQ, with a further three financial-related apprenticeships in development. Approximately 1,400 persons previously employed in financial administrative occupations were job ready job seekers in April 2017; a further 1,900 financial professionals and technicians job seekers were on the Live Register, although only 670 held NFQ level 8 qualifications or higher.

Shortages have been identified in the following areas:
• accounting: financial and management accountants with expertise in solvency, taxation, IFSR43 relevant skills and regulatory compliance; accountants for roles in industry with ERP system and reporting tools, as well as language skills; actuaries
• business intelligence and risk analysis; financial systems analysts; entry level and experienced revenue managers (specific sectors, e.g. hospitality)
• data analytics: experienced (5 years+) statisticians; economists and data scientists (big data, data visualisations and quantitative modelling)
• FinTech: business and financial professionals with skills in specific software packages and experience (including international)
• financial management/financial analysis: trustee managers; deposit managers; payroll managers
• multilingual financial clerks: credit controllers; accounts payable/receivable; payroll specialists; fund accounting and transfer pricing specialists. 

5 – Healthcare Occupations

Shortage Indicators
Recruitment in the health sector is driven primarily by government policy and funding. Overall employment numbers are unchanged compared to 2011. Despite this lack of growth, there is evidence of a significant demand for healthcare professionals.

Healthcare professionals (and in particular nurses and doctors) account for a relatively high share of persons hired in 2016. Most recruitment occurred due to replacement demand (with approximately 3,000 exits to inactivity recorded for the selected occupations). Frequent movement of doctors and nurses between employers is also evident, with over 2,000 intra-occupational transitions identified for medical practitioners and a further 3,800 for nurses. A large number of skilled personnel were sourced from outside the EU with over 2,100 new employment permits issued. The number of job ready job seekers previously employed in these occupations was negligible. In 2015 there were over 4,000 third level graduates (levels 8-10).

Demand for healthcare professionals is expected to persist, with demand increasing due to an aging population as well as international competition to attract the skills and talent to the sector.

Shortages have been identified for the following occupations:
• medical practitioners (especially locum and non-consultant hospital doctors, registrars and medical specialists (e.g. general and emergency medicine, oncology, psychiatry, orthopaedic, anaesthetists, paediatricians))
• nurses – advanced nursing practitioners (e.g. intensive care, operating theatre, theatre nurse managers), registered nurses (e.g. general nurse, cardiovascular care, elder persons’ care, paediatric, oncology, intellectual disability care, fertility) and clinical nurse managers
• radiographers (clinical specialists; MRI and CT radiographers)
• niche area specialists (audiologists, cardiac technician, dieticians).

6 – Education Occupations

Shortage Indicators
The recent growth in the number of primary school enrolments are expected to peak in 2018 and to fall thereafter due to declining number of births, while enrolments at second level are expected to continue to increase through to 2025. Growth in the number of teachers employed has been modest, with replacement demand being the main driver of the recruitment of teachers. In 2016, almost 3,500 transitions to economic inactivity (i.e. retirement, home duty etc.) were identified for primary and secondary teachers.

No overall shortages have been identified for teachers, with 480 relevant job ready job seekers with third level qualifications in April 2017. In 2015, graduate output from education courses at NFQ levels 8 and above was 4,700 (including private colleges). However, issues continue to exist in relation to sourcing teachers (in both second and third level) with a high level of expertise in specific fields, such as science and mathematics. The Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation has recently added experienced academics who hold a qualification equivalent to NFQ Level 10 to their employment permits highly skilled list.

7 – Social and Care Occupations

Shortage Indicators
Ireland’s ageing population will be a key driver of the future demand for care workers. The extent to which this requirement translates into employment growth will partly depend on Government policy, given that a significant share of the care services is publicly funded. Some employment expansion was already evident in recent job announcements including those by TTM Healthcare, Nua Healthcare and Ardmore Care.

Employment in child-minding declined in the most recent time period, with the fall in the number of children in the relevant age cohort (aged 3-5 years) likely to have an impact in the short term. However, government initiatives, such as the expansion of the ECCE scheme, have led to the introduction of minimum qualification levels for childcare workers (with leaders required to have a minimum of NFQ Level 6 and a forthcoming EU requirement for a level 7 qualification); this may cause difficulties in recruiting appropriately qualified staff due to issues such as wages.

In 2016, care workers and childminders combined accounted for 70% of employment in the selected social and care occupations. Employment was mostly part-time with females accounting for the majority of persons employed. These two occupations are characterised by high turnover rates, with 3,700 and 3,200 transitions respectively due to a change of employer in 2016. In addition, these were among occupations with the highest number of transitions between employment and economic inactivity.

In 2016, there were 6,700 awards in caring/nursing studies at level 5 and 4,675 in childcare (levels 5 and 6). There were also over 900 awards at third level awards (NFQ 6-8) in areas such as early childhood care, health and education. In addition, there were approximately 3,300 job ready carers and 300 child-minders seeking employment in April 2017.

Given the high level of turnover, as well as the high volume of job vacancies advertised, it is recognised that some employers may be experiencing difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified care and childcare workers.
Although there are issues in relation to geographical mobility and a lack of attractiveness of the job (e.g. temporary contract), there is currently no shortage of care workers and childminders. However, changing demographics, along with Government policy, will impact on the demand for these skills in the short to medium term.

8 – Legal and Security Occupations

Shortage Indicators
There were 11,900 legal professionals (including judges, barristers and solicitors) employed in Ireland in 2016. The demand for law graduates is not confined to the legal profession alone and there is a need for legal expertise across various business and industry sectors, particularly in relation to compliance in sectors such as aviation, finance (anti- fraud), security and data analytics/protection issues. With over 1,700 law graduates from NFQ level 8 and above courses in 2015, the supply from the education and training system appears to be sufficient.
Nonetheless, the Recruitment Agency Survey has identified an increased demand for corporate, taxation, compliance and merger lawyers.

9 – Construction Professional and Associate Professional Occupations

Shortage Indicators
The outlook and prospects for the construction industry is the most positive in a decade. A recent DKM/CIF report44 forecasts that the construction industry will experience strong growth in activity over the medium term, with the overall volume of construction output predicted to grow at an average annual rate of 9% over the period 2016 to 2020, and employing an estimated 213,000 workers, almost an additional 80,000 persons on 2016 levels.

The significant number of additional workers (including construction professionals and associate professionals) will be required to deliver the ambitious targets set out in the Government’s €42 billion Capital Programme (investment in social infrastructure (schools, hospitals) and productive infrastructure (the national and non-national road network, water treatment services)); the Rebuilding Ireland Strategy, and the increasing demand from foreign direct investment companies for buildings (particularly office space).

Recent job announcements in the media supporting or expected to increase the volume of construction related investment, and hence the demand for skilled construction workers (although temporary jobs), include Apple, Cook Medical and Microsoft (data centres), Shire and Alexion Pharmaceuticals (biologics manufacturing plant), West Pharmaceuticals (manufacturing medical devices plant), Intel (manufacturing semiconductor technology facility).
Although strong employment growth is forecast for this sector, this relates primarily to skilled tradespersons, operatives and labourers. The five-year growth to 2020 for managers, professionals and associate professionals is expected to be in the region of 1,600 persons. Despite significant increases in employment for this sector since 2011, these selected occupations grew by 1,900 during this period.

The reduced intake in higher level education due to the recession has led to a continued fall in the output from construction-related courses, particularly impacting NFQ level 7 and 8 courses, with overall output declining by 50% to 1,700 in 2015. The number of graduates from level 8 civil engineering courses in 2015 amounted to 160, compared to 350 in 2011. In 2015, there were over 190 awards in surveying; 150 were in quantity surveying/construction economics and a further 20 in building surveying. The supply of skills from the live register is also tightening; in April 2017, there were 75 job ready civil engineers, 85 architects and 40 architectural technologists with NFQ level 8 or above qualifications seeking employment.
The reduced supply of skills for these occupations is expected to impact the labour market as demand for these skills increases.

Shortages of the following skills have been identified:
• construction project managers (with relevant experience and specialist knowledge)
• quantity surveyors, building services/structural/site engineers.

10 – Construction Craft Occupations

Shortage Indicators
Job opportunities for construction craftspersons are primarily concentrated in the construction of commercial buildings at present (arising from the continued strong demand for office and industrial space to facilitate the expansion of activities of the FDI companies in sectors such as ICT, Pharma), but are also extending to the residential sector in Dublin and Cork.

DKM and SOLAS predict an additional 40,000 skilled craftspersons will be required for the construction industry by 2020, with demand particularly strong, in absolute terms, for carpenters and joiners and plasterers. Employment of most skilled construction craftspersons is expected to double, or almost double, recovering above 2015 levels, although remaining below pre-recession levels.

Employment growth for the selected construction craftspersons in recent years has been slow but steady. The volume of vacancy notifications has been increasing, particularly for apprentices. The transitions data point to a high volume of movement between employment and unemployment (with net gains for those moving into employment) and also significant movement between employers (at over 9,000). As expansion for these occupations was relatively small since 2015 (at 2,600), movements between employers is thought to be the main contributing factor relating to the almost 14,000 new job hires in 2016. Of these, almost two thirds held higher secondary or FET qualifications; carpenters accounted for the largest share of new hires.

In terms of supply, the current level of apprentice intake, particularly in wet trades (bricklayers, plasterers, painters and decorators, floor and wall tilers), is very low (double digits). As it takes four years for an apprentice to fully qualify, the training output is likely to lag behind the demand arising from the anticipated strong growth in residential development. This may lead to shortages in the medium term.

A considerable overhang of construction skills remains in the Irish labour market: although the number of construction craftspersons seeking employment through the Public Employment Service (PES) has declined in recent years, in April 2017 there were 8,500 job ready job seekers from these occupations collectively. It should be noted, however, that for the most part, these individuals had at most a Leaving Certificate. As a result, the availability of qualified tradespersons (i.e. NFQ 6 advanced certificate) may become an issue as the recovery accelerates.

Although there are no overall shortages in these occupations, there are niche areas where issues with recruiting are occurring. Future shortages are anticipated if the sector recovers as expected, particularly in the more labour intensive residential sector, and if the output from apprenticeships is not sufficient to meet demand.

A shortage of skills has been identified for the following occupations:
• curtain wallers
• glaziers
• steelfixers, steel erectors
• pipelayers
• shuttering carpentry
• shift managers and supervisors.

11 – Other Craft Occupations

Shortage Indicators
Electricians: Employment of those in electrical/electronic trades is concentrated in construction (41%), industry (19%) and the ICT sector (14%). The volume of vacancy notifications has been increasing in recent years, although overall employment levels have remained static. Replacement demand for this occupation is far higher than average, although this may be due to coding issues relating to IT user support technicians/IT engineers. In 2016, 31 employment permits were issued, primarily for field service engineers entering on intra-company transfers.
In terms of supply, the number of electrical apprentices registering annually has been growing steadily since 2011. In addition, almost 1,500 job ready electricians were available in April 2017 (albeit a significant portion of these job seekers held at most Junior Certificate qualifications). Despite this supply, demand for electricians is expected to increase, with DKM indicating a further 5,500 electricians will be required by 2020; as such, it may become increasing difficult for employers to source suitably qualified electricians. Indeed, employers are already reporting difficulties in sourcing electricians with specific skills in areas such as computer based industrial control systems, indicating that shortages may begin to emerge for this occupation in the short-medium term.

Welders – while this occupation experienced employment growth in recent years, a high volume of movement between employers (over 1,600 identified in 2016) is also a contributing factor to the increased number of vacancy notifications for this occupations; vacancies for welders were primarily for those with TIG/MIG, ARC, butt/electric fusion skills; on the supply side, 160 FET minor awards were made in 2016 in manual arc and oxy- acetylene welding; there were also 1,000 job ready job seekers previously employed as welders in April 2017, although over half held a Junior Certificate qualification or less; nonetheless, a shortage of TIG/MIG welders continues to persist, with demand expected to remain strong particularly due to the growth in the construction and metal fabrication/machining (e.g. high tech manufacturing) industries.

Tool makers/fitters – the strong performance of the high tech manufacturing sector is driving the demand for tool making skills; in response to the growing demand, a number of new courses and modules have been introduced in recent years, including two new manufacturing apprenticeships (at NFQ levels 6 and 7) have commenced, led by the Irish Medical Devices Association (IMDA), with an anticipated 100 annual enrolments; this is in addition to the 38 awards made through FET courses in 2016 (an increase from 10 in 2013) and an increase in apprentice intake on the tool making apprenticeship; nonetheless, shortages of tradespersons with expertise in making highly complex precision tools are expected to persist in the short run.

Butchers/de-boners – despite a fall in the overall number of butchers/de-boners employed, a high demand exists driven by the strong performance of the meat processing industry; over two fifths of those employed as butchers/deboners were non-Irish nationals in 2016, with 160 new employment permits issued; an NFQ level 5 apprenticeship in butchery is under development in order to meet demand for this occupation; however, the problem with attracting and retaining skilled butchers/de-boners following completion of their training is expected to remain a challenge for the meat industry in Ireland, with the issue likely to be exacerbated by the greater availability of job opportunities across other growing sectors of the economy.

12 – Arts, Sports and Tourism Occupations

Shortage Indicators
The number of persons employed in hospitality related services grew strongly between 2015 and 2016, particularly for chefs, waiters and restaurant managers.

These occupations are characterised by a higher than average volume of transitions between employment, unemployment and inactivity. A half of those exiting employment to inactivity did so in order to study; a high level of movement between employers was particularly evident for chefs and waiters.

Hospitality occupations also had a high share of non-Irish nationals employed; at least a third of chefs, waiters and kitchen assistants were non-Irish; the number of new employment permits issued for chefs grew to 205 in 2016.
The increasing number of job vacancies for hospitality related occupations are a reflection of both the growth in the sector as well as the high volume of movement within these roles. This high level of transitions indicates that employment in these occupations is often transitory in nature.

Although a shortage of hotel and restaurant managers has not been identified, employers are experiencing difficulties due to issues in relation to retention, the location of employment (rural vs. urban), and level of experience.

In terms of supply, there were over 1,000 job ready job seekers chefs on the Live Register in April 2017, although almost three-quarters of those held leaving cert qualifications or below. The supply from the education and training system has continued to increase, with the number of chefs qualifying from courses at NFQ levels 5-8 at almost 900 in 2015/16, up from 600 in 2013/2014. A two- year commis chef apprenticeship (NFQ level 6) is due to commence in 2017, with an expected annual intake of over 100 apprentices; further development of apprenticeships for chefs de partie, sous chefs and executive chef is on-going.

Despite the increased supply from the education and training system, there remains a shortage of chefs. While the supply is sufficient to meet the demand for lower skilled hospitality roles (waiters/bar staff and catering assistants), the availability of persons willing to take up those roles is expected to be negatively affected by the greater availability of job opportunities across other growing sectors.

13 – Transport and Logistics Occupations

Shortage Indicators
Although the numbers employed in managerial and administrative transport positions are relatively small, growth has been observed since 2015. Replacement demand for these occupations was low in 2016 although turnover was above average for management roles, while the volume of vacancy notifications was low. The extent to which Brexit will impact on the international haulage sector is as yet unclear although a recent Department of Finance report suggests that of all services sectors, transport is by far the sector most exposed to changes in access to the UK market. As such, the future demand for skills is difficult to determine in the short-medium term.

In 2016, there were almost 100 major awards made in logistics/distribution & supply chain logistics, mostly at NFQ level 5. At third level, the latest data shows that there were 265 awards in supply chain management (mainly at level 8 & 9) and a further 130 awards in transport management/operation (mostly at levels 7 & 8). In April 2017, job ready job seekers included a number of persons previously employed in managerial and administrative transport positions.

Although most of the indicators examined in relation to managerial and administrative transport occupations, such as volume of vacancies, turnover and number of available jobseekers, do not signal a short supply, the Recruitment Agency Survey identified a number of areas where employers are having difficulty in sourcing a small number of suitably qualified candidates including:
• purchasing managers and senior buyers
• senior planner (supply chain management including demand forecasting)
• distribution specialists with technical expertise (biopharma)
• administrative roles in procurement, supply chain and logistics with languages.

In terms of drivers, although some employment growth occurred since 2015, this was exceeded by the number of persons starting with a new employer in these occupations in 2016. This indicates that a high level of turnover was responsible for a significant share of the vacancy notifications. Despite demand for these drivers, approximately 7,000 job ready job seekers were recorded in April 2017, although many had attained less than Leaving Certificate level education. In addition, the Road Safety Authority awarded over 500 Driver CPC certificates and the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport awarded 170 ADR driving certificates to learners on SOLAS funded courses in 2016.

Nonetheless, employers are still experiencing difficulty in sourcing candidates for these roles and given that almost one in three truck drivers was over 55, replacement demand will remain strong in the short-medium term. In order to alleviate some of the issues in this area, a number of employment permits have been allocated for HGV drivers who have a CE or C1E driving licence. A three year NFQ level 5 HGV driver apprenticeship is also currently in development. With the increase in construction activity, particularly in Dublin, demand for mobile machine drivers has increased significantly in recent years.

Sourcing and retaining suitably qualified drivers has been identified for
• heavy goods vehicle (HGV) drivers/articulated truck drivers/rigid truck with Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC)
• fork lift drivers (e.g. with VNA and/or turret license, reach truck)
• 360 machine drivers (14 ton).

14 – Administrative and Secretarial Occupations

Shortage Indicators
Vacancies occurred frequently in 2016 for administrative and secretarial roles.
However, most administrative occupations experienced declines in employment, with evidence of a significant share of job openings occurring due to replacement (over 10,000 exits from employment to inactivity) and turnover (almost 12,000 transitions between employers). There were over 10,000 persons classified as job ready job seekers in April 2017 who had previously been employed in administrative occupations, across all education levels. In addition, there were over 4,200 QQI awards in business and administration made to FET learners in 2016, mostly at NFQ level 5. Supply is estimated to be sufficient to meet any current demand and no shortages exist at present.

15 – Sales and Customer Service Occupations

Shortage Indicators
There were 55,000 recent new hires in 2016 for the selected sales and customer services roles representing 17% of total new hires.
With employment growth of 3,300 over the same time period, the high volume of vacancy notifications that occurred related primarily to frequent changes of employer and replacement of those in sales-related occupations who have exited to inactivity.

Sales assistants: sales assistants account for the bulk of those employed in sales-related occupations; employment of many sales assistants is casual in nature: over half of employment is part-time, almost a third are aged less than 25, and there is a large volume of transitions in all directions (between employment, unemployment, economic inactivity (mostly study), as well as between and within occupations) and a simultaneous presence of a large number of job seekers (over 7,000) and vacancy notifications. While the transitory nature of employment for sales assistants may not represent an issue for employers, sourcing for management roles in retail may be a greater challenge; however, the availability of business graduates is likely to help in meeting employer requirements in this regard.

Associate professional sales and customer service roles: those employed as sales assistants work primarily in the wholesale and retail sector, whereas business sales executives and those in customer service occupations are employed across a range of sectors including finance, IT and industry, in addition to wholesale and retail. Although there are no shortages of sales assistants, shortages of the following sales and customer care skills continue to persist:
• technical sales (e.g. software B2B and SaaS products)
• vendor managers/CRM roles with European languages (Nordic, Dutch and German).

Marketing experts: despite the third level graduate output of 1,500 persons from sales and marketing courses at levels 6 and above (HEA and non-HEA sectors), a shortage of marketing experts required to lead product/brand management and business development (with languages) continues to exist.

16 – Operatives

Shortage Indicators
In 2016, there was a high volume of vacancies for operative roles, particularly for process and construction operatives. However, the lack of employment growth in many of these occupations, along with a high turnover rate, indicates that vacancies were mostly occurring due to movements between employers.
There were approximately 7,800 job ready job seekers in April 2017 who were previously employed in operative roles, with the majority holding a Leaving Certificate qualification or less. A two-year NFQ level 5 apprenticeship for food and drink process operatives is currently in development.
Nonetheless, the DKM/CIF report on the Demand for Skills in Construction 2020, forecasts a rise of 6,400 in the numbers employed in construction-related operative roles by 2020. The upturn in the construction industry, and in particular, commercial building, has led to an increasing demand for labour intensive roles including ground workers, scaffolders, tower crane operatives and pipelayers.

Despite the lack of employment growth in these occupations and the high number of job ready job seekers, shortages of the following operative skills have been identified:
• qualified CNC (computer numeric control) operatives: particularly in high technology manufacturing (e.g. medical devices and pharmaceuticals) and engineering; many unemployed operatives have been trained in traditional operative skills and lack the technical and digital competencies required for high technology automated manufacturing
• production operatives: vacancies, particularly in the high-tech manufacturing/med-tech sector, are proving difficult to fill and given the high churn rates, it is possible that retention issues may arise as job opportunities in other sectors improve, resulting in a labour shortage for operative occupations
• construction operatives: ground workers, scaffolders, experienced tower crane operatives and pipelayers in line with the upturn in the construction industry.

17 – Elementary occupations

Shortage Indicators
The transitory nature of employment in elementary occupations (e.g. cleaners, security guards, routine testers, elementary construction workers, agricultural labourers etc.) is apparent through the analysis of the many labour market indicators examined such as transitions, vacancies and job seeker data. There is a higher than average share of non- Irish nationals employed in elementary occupations, particularly in cleaning. There is also a high share of part-time work and the education profile of those employed in these occupations is lower than the overall average. Although there is currently no evidence of shortage of labourers in Ireland, attracting and retaining elementary workers will become increasingly challenging as job opportunities increase across all sectors of the economy.

This appears to be the case for those employed in the agricultural sector such as mushroom/fruit pickers. There has also been an increased demand