Ireland had the third highest share of third level graduates across the EU 28 countries (after Luxembourg and Cyprus), well above the EU average of 27pc.

Ireland has more than 1m third level graduates in its population

23 Jul 2015

There are now more than 1m people in Ireland between the ages of 20 and 65 who have a third-level qualification.

Unsurprisingly, the highest levels of employment can be found in science, computing and engineering, according to the Expert Group on Future Skills.

The ravages of the recession can be seen in the report in terms of the decline in the number of 20-to-29-year-olds in the population between 2009 and 2014 as unemployment made emigration once again the only option for many.

Ireland’s share of 20-to-29-year-olds in the EU in 2014 was smaller than the EU average, and especially for those aged 20 to 24.

“The impact of the recession on the construction industry can be seen in the fall in the number of FET level 6 awards in construction related areas in recent years,” said Una Halligan, chairperson of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs.

“However, it is hoped that as the economy recovers and the number of new apprentice registrations continues to grow, the number of awards in this area will increase.”

Younger cohorts of Irish workforce more qualified than ever

On the bright side, younger cohorts in the working population are more highly qualified than ever with half of 25-to-39-year-olds holding third-level qualifications compared to less than a quarter of 60-to-64-year-olds.

In 2014, at 38pc, Ireland had the third highest share of third-level graduates across the EU 28 countries (after Luxembourg and Cyprus), well above the EU average of 27pc.

The likelihood of being in employment increased with educational attainment with shares in employment at 56pc for those with at most a Leaving Cert and rising to 81pc for third-level graduates in Q4 2014.

Of those aged 20 to 64 with post-secondary or third-level qualifications, social science, business and law (SSBL) accounted for the largest number of persons (400,000) followed by engineering, manufacturing and construction (250,000 persons); for each field excluding agriculture, third-level graduates outnumbered post-secondary qualification holders.

Engineering accounted for the majority of post-secondary education holders at 110,000, followed by SSBL (67,000) and health and welfare (51,000).

Those with agriculture qualifications had the highest share in employment (88pc), followed by engineering (77pc); arts/humanities had the highest share of persons unemployed (15pc).

Approximately three quarters of all employed persons with qualifications in engineering, SSBL and agriculture were working in a related field.

The study found that people with science qualifications have high employment rates and are working in highly-skilled, well-paid jobs.

Output of computing courses at third level has been increasing in recent years and young graduates have high employment rates.

Graduates image via Shutterstock

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John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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