In a recent interview I spoke with Conor Kane (Irish Examiner) about the recovering economy and how graduates can now look forward to better job opportunities.
Since 1999 there have been “a few peaks and troughs”, in the recruitment industry, with a major dip in 2001 and then obviously the biggest fall-off for us was in 2008 and 2009.
That’s when things really went down. There was a 40% to 50% dip in recruitment activity. But since 2009 it’s been improving year-on-year at a significant rate and we’re busier now even than we were at the height of the boom.
It never slowed down completely because the areas we focus on remained quite steady and export-focused and that part of the economy is growing strongly.
While the traditional low cost manufacturing and assembly-type jobs aren’t as plentiful as they once were, they’ve been replaced by better-quality jobs in the likes of the ICT, medical device and pharmaceutical industries.
What you’re seeing is Ireland coming up the value chain in terms of the types of businesses we have.
We have seen core manufacturing companies re-invent themselves and base business units in Ireland to support a much more global level of activity. The key element is that the functions are managed from Ireland and general by Irish Managers.
Because of the upturn in the export business, albeit concentrated in certain parts of the country, there is a greater demand at the moment for engineers of various types: manufacturing process engineers, electrical engineers, quality engineers.
The increase in construction activity for new and expanding multinationals is driving significant demand for mechanical and project engineers. Many of these are working on international projects which, again, are being driven from Ireland. A lot of Irish companies are winning contracts at a global level so there are a lot of opportunities for people to travel.
Meanwhile, Ireland is now a major player in the agrifood business sector and thanks to the Government’s recent launch of the Food-Wise 2025 policy, which aims to create thousands of new jobs in the sector over the coming decade, that’s only going to grow.
Agricultural science, food science and food business are all areas of study which are going to be in demand from graduates by employers in the next few years as Ireland continues to position itself in the post-milk quota EU and the emerging beef markets of the far east.
Pharmaceuticals, science and biotechnology are also areas which will be sought after by employers, with significant investment in Ireland by multi-national companies and the development of a critical mass in our life sciences sector.
While the speed with which change happens in the business world makes it hard to predict what will be “hot” and “not” in recruitment when this year’s school leavers are graduating from college in three or four years’ time, what is pretty sure is there won’t be any let-up in the demand for graduates in the engineering, scientific and financial sectors.
What I would say to anyone is that you need some sort of qualification in this market, whether it’s a diploma or a degree.
That’s what really makes a difference. The people struggling now are the people who didn’t get any education or in-house training when they had an opportunity to do so. It’s hard to place these people now. It is important that you continue to upskill, even when you graduate.
Overall, it’s a more optimistic mood in the employment world today than that of a few years ago.
To be honest, the challenge for us now is to try and bring back all of the talented graduates who left due to the economic downturn. This can be difficult as they build lives in foreign climes and get used to non-Irish weather!
We have a serious shortfall of experienced people across the construction sector, both in terms of mechanical engineering, quantity surveying and project planning, for example, and we’re finding it difficult to fill these roles. What they need to start doing is coming back from Australia and Canada.
Original article by Conor Kane (Irish Examiner)
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