Today it is more important than ever that school leavers select a career path that offers long term employability. Despite the current state of the Irish and European economies, there are still sectors of the Irish economy that are experiencing continued growth. There are excellent opportunities available for jobseekers with requisite skills. At Collins McNicholas, we are seeing strong demand for qualified graduates in areas such as pharmaceutical science, biotechnology, engineering and information and communications technology (ICT). Ireland continues to attract many large multinational companies, particularly in the biopharmaceutical and ICT industries. For leaving cert students thinking about what course to choose when filling out their CAO forms, colleges that provide well-recognised courses in these areas should be given serious consideration.

Niall Murray, General Manager of Collins McNicholas, points out that there are still job opportunities out there in certain areas of the economy, for people with specific skills, in particular, sectors such as ICT, business with a foreign language, biopharmaceutical manufacturing and medical device manufacturing.  There is an especially strong demand for ICT graduates, with large numbers of positions being filled with candidates from abroad. This indicates that the largest shortage of qualified Irish graduates exists in the ICT sector. Growth of the ‘Coder Dojo’ movement in Ireland is encouraging, with more young people learning how to code at an early age, as well as how to develop websites, mobile apps and games. Looking to the future it is clear, Ireland needs to increase the number of science, computing and engineering graduates to attract and support the knowledge-based industries of the future.

In addition to the demand for maths, science and IT skills, graduates that possess a foreign language are also more likely to find employment upon completion of their studies. In an export-oriented economy fluency in another language is a great asset for jobseekers. IDA Ireland confirms the view of Niall Murray above, stating that, ‘based on current job creation trends within Ireland, sectors like information and communication technology (ICT), digital media and language-based business courses are likely to provide strong career opportunities for students in the years ahead.’ Many graduates will find themselves seeking work with a large foreign-owned multinational company, where being able to speak another language will give them a great advantage.

IDA Ireland cites the level and type of FDI in Ireland as useful criteria for students when considering what kind of skills are most in-demand. Students need to identify what sectors of the economy are growing, especially those in which there is a shortage of qualified graduates, and focus on finding a course that will allow them to develop the skills and expertise needed to make them valuable in the eyes of recruiters.

Students also need to consider what the specific criteria are that employers look for within their chosen discipline when deciding what to specialise in. Within engineering, there has been a decreasing demand for civil engineers, but there is an increasing demand for engineers in the medical device, pharmaceutical, energy, and electronics industries. Validation, production, chemical, biomedical, mechanical, and electronic engineers are all sought after within these industries. Similar considerations can be made by those pursuing other disciplines. Within ICT there is a shortage of individuals with the appropriate skills in software engineering, database architecture, cloud computing, and online security, to name only a few of the areas needing qualified personnel.  Science graduates most in demand include biologists, microbiologists, and chemists, particularly when related to biotechnology.

The most important questions that any young, prospective student should ask themselves are; what should I study to be employable in the future, and, what am I most interested in? It would be very difficult for anyone to spend four years studying a subject they had little interest in, before going on to spend their career working in that industry. Students need to couple their interests with where the best career prospects lie, by doing this they will put themselves in the best position possible to secure employment when they graduate.

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Niall Murray

Managing Director

Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services