Wednesday 22 March 2017

A qualification does the job

THIS RECESSION, like others before, will end. The global economy is showing signs of recovery and as Ireland’s main trade partners resume growth, the Irish economy will follow.

As with the downturn, the speed and extent of recovery will vary across sectors and occupations. While some sectors and occupations are likely to resume growth and relatively quickly reach pre-recession employment levels, others will be significantly slower to recover.

Sectors which are expected to generate most jobs beyond the recession include high tech manufacturing and the market services sector.

This includes areas of business (including IT, research, advertisement, human resources etc.), finance, insurance and other services (e.g. personal services, entertainment, art etc).

Sectors not expected to recover to the prerecession levels for a longer time include construction, hospitality, retail and the motor trade. Areas expected to continue on a downward trajectory even beyond the recession include traditional manufacturing and agriculture.

It is important to keep in mind that even sectors which are expected to be slower in recovery are likely to have vibrant areas of business. For instance, within construction, while new house building is unlikely to pick up for a while, infrastructure to support renewable energy and energy saving projects is likely to grow.

Occupations expected to be in strong demand beyond the dip include professionals and associate professionals, particularly in the science, IT, engineering, business and financial area.

Growth in these areas will be driven by the expansion in the sectors which employ them (high tech manufacturing and services), but also by the expected change in the skill mix, whereby the share of lowerskilled occupations is likely to give way to professional and associate professional.

Employment growth for skilled manual workers is likely to suffer a drag in the recovery which is expected for construction.

However, some ground will be gained as the sectoral skill mix moves away from unskilled labour in favour of qualified craftspersons.

Employment of operatives and unskilled workers is not expected to recover beyond the recession as a result of the contraction in traditional manufacturing brought about by the move of operations outside of Ireland to low-cost destinations (eg China, India and Eastern Europe), but also as a result of the move up the value chain and up the skill scale in most sectors.

Informed choices about the level and field of education and training are the best strategy in improving employability today and tomorrow While there will always be some job openings in all sectors and all occupations, the bulk of future demand is likely to become concentrated at the higher end of the skill scale.

This should be borne in mind by tomorrow’s job seekers as they make their decisions about the field of study and the duration of their time in education and training today.

Jasmina Behan, Skills and Labour Market Research Unit, FÁS

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