We’re due an explosion in jobs in the marine sector in Ireland over the next few years, with the skills needed already abundant in the Irish labour pool, according to a new report.
The current marine economy employs more than 16,000 people in Ireland, and that number actually has the potential to double by 2020, owing to growth in the industry as a whole.
The vast nature of the maritime industry means that professionals from right across the labour spectrum are represented already – for example engineers, biologists, scientists, researchers, lawyers, management, architects, technicians, crane operators, sailors and food handlers.
The roles that will be required, should this major expansion in the industry happen, will be so general that people will merely need some side-stepping training.
The skills identified by the report – written up by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) – include engineers, people with boat-handling skills and hydrographic surveyors.
Careers can be ‘marinised’
Many roles are not exclusive to a marine environment, for example, electrical and mechanical engineers, lawyers, technicians and welders are all land -based occupations, but with a top-up qualification or training an individual’s skills can be ‘marinised’ to enable them to work in a marine or offshore environment.
“With our position on the western periphery of Europe facing the Atlantic Ocean and its energy resources, our deep water ports and our 7,500 km coastline. Ireland is well placed to capitalise on the growing potential of the global marine economy and create sustainable jobs in the coastal regions,” said chairperson of the EGFSN, Una Halligan.
“However, an important aspect will be the co-ordinated effort on the part of all the marine sectors to raise awareness of the excellent and rewarding careers in the sector and attracting people to the opportunities available.”
Cluster of companies in Cork
The industry is pretty exciting at the moment. Last December, three companies in the Cork cluster of marine industry – Resolute Marine, an ocean energy company; Exceedence, a spin-out from UCC’s Beaufort Research Centre, and Royal Marine, a global salvage company – expanded significantly.
US company Resolute Marine is setting up a European HQ in Cork, with 80 jobs to be filled over the next five years. Exceedence is creating five new jobs in marine renewable energy financial consultancy in 2015, while Resolve Marine is hiring six people at its European HQ in Cork harbour this year.
The whole area of fishing and general marine research is massive already, but the marine energy is a cool niche, with Irish interests throughout.
Waterford leads the way
Waterford Institute of Technology’s Telecommunications Software & Systems Group (TSSG) is coordinating an aquaculture research project, for example, that will pool knowledge and tech to improve the global fish farm industry.
With an ultimate aim of boosting both production and jobs in the aquaculture arena, AquaSmart is being led by Dr Steven Davy in Waterford, with the €3.1m project funded through the European Commission’s Horizon 2020 programme.
Slovenia, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Israel will also take part in the two-year programme, with the pooling of resources the prime tool in this project’s aim of improving knowledge in the whole area of fish farming.
Jellyfish image, via Shutterstock