As Leaving Certificate students return to school many of them are beginning to ask this question. The fact is that both Brexit and technology will have a direct impact on the future career paths for many of this years Leaving Certificate students.
Recent studies have shown that half of Leaving Certificate students feel unprepared for the CAO form and that half of parents do not believe they know enough to advise their children about what course or area of study to pursue in college.
Part of the confusion is that many of the ‘good, secure’ jobs of the last decade are either becoming obsolete or no longer hold the security they once had making it far more difficult to advise students of where the opportunities are to be in future.
The 21st century has seen the emergence at an unprecedented rate of technologies that have transformed the way that we live and work. The workplace is changing. Jobs as we know them are undergoing a process of change with the skills required for many roles changing significantly. I believe that higher education must prepare students for jobs yet to be created. As a rule of thumb, 60% of the jobs 10 years from now haven’t been invented yet.
Lifelong learning and upskilling/reskilling will become part and parcel of working life. It is essential that those leaving college and further education courses are equipped with the skills to survive in, and to fully benefit from the potential of the digital economy.
This a difficult time for students and their parents and it is important to provide them with accessible information that can help them make the best decisions for their future.
Based on the reports of the Government ‘Expert Group on Future Skill Needs’ I have listed below the current employment trends which will assist students in making choices as to where the best opportunities will lie in a future jobs market in Ireland.
Here is a summary of the current trends:
Science & Engineering Jobs
The demand for those with science and engineering skills is not confined to these occupations. While the number of graduates from science and engineering courses has been growing, in the main, in recent years, these graduates are in strong demand across a variety of occupations (e.g. education, finance, public administration etc.). Demand for those working in science and engineering occupations is driven chiefly by high-tech and related industries.
Job titles where current shortages were identified included:
— scientists (chemists, biochemists)
— engineers (electrical, chemical, automation, validation, mechanical, process, quality control, design)
— technicians (quality control, process (injection moulding/polymer), maintenance, extrusion
The demand for ICT skills is a global phenomenon with skills required across an increasing number of sectors. Although the Irish education and training system appears to be producing a sufficient supply of IT graduates to meet replacement and expansion demand, the evolving nature of the skillsets and the international competition for these skills is resulting in shortages.
Current shortages were identified for:
— IT project managers
— software developers/engineers
— web developers, IT architects (systems, solutions, technical), test/ systems/network/ security engineers
— technicians (technical support, systems/database administrators) with language skills
Business & Financial Jobs
The future demand for business and financial skills is likely to be affected by the impact of Brexit. Numerous financial services firms have applied for approval to operate in Ireland; should these companies relocate from the UK to Ireland, demand will increase for medium and high skilled persons to work in the financial sector. On the other hand, the demand for business skills may be negatively affected by exposure to a decrease in demand for exports of goods and services to the UK.
Shortages were currently identified for:
— business intelligence/business analysts
— financial analyst
— data analysts
While demand for health services continues to grow in Ireland, recruitment in these occupations is dependent on government funding. As such, there are many occupations where shortages do not exist despite significant demand for services. Pay and conditions of employment remain an issue.
— medical practitioners (emergency medicine, anaesthetics, paediatric, orthopaedic, general practitioners)
— nurses (staff, registered, clinical nurse managers, advanced nurse practitioners)
Employment for these occupations is driven both by government funding and the demographic profile of the population. The fall in the number of children born in recent years will mean a lower demand for primary school/nursery teachers. On the other hand, the second level school population is expected to peak in 2024-2025; this will result in increased demand at second level over the next ten years, and later at third level as this cohort moves up through the education system. In addition, government policy for lifelong learning will impact on demand for workplace and adult learning.
Issues have been identified for secondary teachers although shortages have not been signalled at this point.
Social & Care Jobs
Changing demographics is the primary driver of employment for these occupations; the demand for childcare workers will decline with the fall in the number of births and, conversely, the demand for care workers will increase due to the aging population.
Issues with attracting and retaining care workers have been identified as an issue for this group.
Legal & Security Jobs
Excluding security guards, there was very little employment growth in these occupations over the five years examined and there was no evidence in the analysis of difficulties sourcing candidates.
In terms of employment growth for these occupations, most relates to skilled trades and operative/elementary occupations. Growth for professional roles has been smaller. Despite this employment growth, however, there remain over 11,000 job ready job seekers who had previously worked in the construction sector, although most of these are in the lower skilled occupations.
Shortages have been identified for:
— professionals: civil engineers, construction project managers, quantity surveyors
— trades: shuttering carpenters, shift managers, glaziers, steel erectors, curtain wallers
— operatives: scaffolders, pipe layers
Other Craft Jobs
Further growth in these occupations is likely to be driven by activity in the medium-high and high tech manufacturing sectors, and to a lesser extent, by the construction (e.g. electricians) and wholesale/retail (e.g. mechanics) sectors.
Shortages have been identified for:
— welders (e.g. TIG/MIG)
— toolmakers, CNC programmers and fitters (e.g. mechanical/ maintenance) in niche areas e.g. high-tech manufacturing
— deboners (relates to a labour shortage)
In addition, although shortages have not been identified, issues relating to electricians may emerge until the output from the apprenticeship system recovers.
Agriculture & Animal Care Jobs
There was very little employment growth in these occupations over the five-year period examined and there was no evidence in the analysis of difficulties sourcing candidates. However, issues have been identified by employers through the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine in attracting and retaining persons in the areas of horticulture (e.g. fruit and mushroom pickers) and dairy farming. As such, a quota of employment permits has been issued for this sector in order to address the labour shortages that are occurring.
Employers have identified potential labour shortages in the following occupations:
— mushroom pickers, fruit pickers
— dairy farming
The accommodation and food services sector, for which the majority of employment in these jobs occurs, has experienced significant growth in recent years. However, job churn is also a significant factor for these occupations, with over 50,000 recent job hires occurring in 2017 for these occupations.
Shortages have been identified for chefs (executive, head chefs, sous chefs, chef de partie).
Arts, Sports & Tourism Jobs
Employment growth in these occupations is likely to be linked to Ireland’s strong economic performance in recent years; increases in disposable incomes may be expected to drive the growth in many of these occupations (e.g. fitness instructors, beauty therapists).
Although shortages have not been identified, there are indications that employers are having difficulties recruiting animators.
Transport & Logistics Jobs
Employment for people working in these occupations is primarily in the transport sector, but is also spread across a number of other sectors including industry, wholesale/retail and construction. Four fifths of employment relates to drivers (e.g. truck, taxi, bus, mobile machine). Those working in the transport sector are likely to be affected by the impact of Brexit in terms of the import and export of goods. In th…e event of a hard Brexit, additional skills will be required in the areas of customs clearance and documentation. Regardless of Brexit, technological changes and automation of processes will result in a need for enhanced digital skills across all occupations in this field.
Shortages have been identified for:
— crane drivers, 360o/ Reach truck drivers, forklift (VNA) drivers
— HGV drivers (relates to labour shortages)
In addition, issues have been signalled for:
— supply chain managers, demand planning and forecasting analysts, senior planners
— logistics/supply chain operators & administrators
Administrative & Secretarial Occupations
Automation is likely to continue to impact the number of people required for these occupations. Outsourcing of certain tasks is also directly impacting this group. Job churn is also a factor.
Sales, Marketing & Customer Service Occupations
These occupations span a range of skills levels, from sales assistants to marketing executives. As such, the outlook varies significantly.
A shortage of those with language skills have been identified for:
— account strategists, inside sales representatives
— marketing specialists (including digital)
— contact centre agents, customer service representatives
Also shortages have been identified for product/account managers.
Operatives & Elementary Jobs
Industry accounts for over half of the employment in these occupations (e.g. manufacturing of food products and pharmaceutical products), with employment also in the wholesale/retail and accommodation and food services sectors (e.g. cleaners). These occupations are likely
to be impacted by the automation of manufacturing processes, which will lead to a demand for upskilling of the existing workforce to evolve with new digitalisation and automation requirements. Job churn is a significant factor for these occupations as evidenced by the number of job ready job seekers previously employed in these occupations and the high number of recent job hires.