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Majority of Irish employers prioritise skills over degrees

12 Dec 2023

Four in five employers are likely to hire a worker who does not possess all the required skills with the intention of upskilling them, according to new Hays research.

New research by Hays shows that only one-quarter (28pc) of Irish employers believe that having a third-level degree is very important and they would not consider candidates without degrees.

That’s because 70pc of Irish employers think that degrees are not essential. Breaking this down, 50pc of employers say degrees are quite important but not essential, while 20pc say degrees are not at all essential.

Hays received 1,451 Irish responses to the survey that informed this research during August and September this year.

While some respondents place a lot of importance on university education, most are more concerned by workers’ willingness to learn and upskill.

Almost three-quarters (71pc) of employers believe a willingness to learn is more important than existing skills, while four in five employers are likely to hire a worker who does not possess all the required skills with the intention of upskilling them.

Just under a quarter (23pc) of employers say existing skills are more important than a willingness to learn.

Shifting landscape

“As the workforce evolves, education remains a valuable asset,” said Hays Ireland MD Maureen Lynch. However, judging by the survey results, education is becoming more skills-based than degree-based.

“Recent trends show that the landscape is shifting somewhat in that employers see the benefit in upskilling for their own needs,” said Lynch, adding that Hays’ research “reflects a sense of optimism in the job market and reflects that this past year has been a positive year of growth in Ireland. Our report shows that the majority of employers are embracing technology, fostering a culture of learning and placing an emphasis on upskilling in the next 12 months.”

AI and skills shortages

The integration of AI tools and technology will continue to be a workforce trend for the upcoming year, according to Hays’ report. But many Irish respondents (60pc) said they are not using AI tools currently. The relatively low percentage of people using AI tools could be linked to skills shortages and lack of knowledge about the benefits of AI.

Nearly a third (29pc) of employers have a skills shortage that prevents from making the best use of AI tools.

Some employers expressed security concerns when it comes to the use of AI tools in the workplace, but most are receptive to incorporating AI tools into the workforce over the next 12 months.

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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