Two reports published today by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) highlight the increasing demand for, and limited supply of, experienced IT personnel in Ireland and worldwide, while also noting an increasing level of interest in computing at third level.
‘Monitoring Ireland’s Skills Supply: Trends in Education and Training Outputs’, an annual report on the supply of skills to the Irish labour market, and the EGFSN’s ‘National Skills Bulletin’ clarify the employment trends, job opportunities and demand for skills in Ireland.
According to these reports, between 2010 and 2011, sales-related job opportunities were most common, particularly in digital marketing. Vacancies also arose in IT, science and engineering, among other professions.
Globally, experienced IT personnel are in demand but in short supply, and Ireland is no exception. In fact, ICT skills represented the largest share of skills sourced abroad.
Computing graduates increasing
During this period, an increasing number of people gained awards across almost all levels of the National Framework of Qualifications, with particular growth in computing.
“There are job opportunities in certain sectors and for specific skills, such as information and communications technologies, high-tech manufacturing (particularly biopharma), the financial services sector, the health sector and for those with languages and sales skills,” summarised Una Halligan, chairperson of the EGFSN.
“The EGFSN has specifically highlighted the need for the development of further high-level ICT skills and there are promising signs with higher-level computing programmes seeing a 27pc increase in the number of graduates at level 8 and a 37pc increase at level 9 since 2009,” she added.
Erasmus popularity could boost language skills
In a recent report on the skills needed for enterprises to trade internationally, the EGFSN highlighted the critical need for foreign language proficiency and international sales skills to fill a potential 2,200 jobs in exporting companies over the coming years, and Halligan further emphasised this point.
“Foreign-language capability and cultural awareness are essential,” she said. “An improved supply of foreign languages capability – including German, French, Spanish and Italian, as well as Mandarin Chinese and Japanese – would be a major boost to enterprises in achieving their export potential.”
The number of outgoing Erasmus students reached the highest number to date in 2009/2010, as 2,128 students went abroad to work as part of their studies, mainly to France or Spain. If this trend continues, it could be a major boost to the level of foreign-language proficiency in the Irish workforce.
“I would very much encourage those making career choices to focus on the areas of greatest job opportunities and to focus their education and training on specific skills needs in those areas,” added Halligan.