Saturday 3 December 2016

Finding a course that gives the best chance of landing a job

Published 11/08/2011 | 05:00

Jill Barrett on the Springboard focus on areas where there are skills shortages

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At almost 450,000, the number of people on the live register makes for bleak reading, but this figure belies a trend in a number of sectors where skilled workers are becoming increasingly hard to find. While areas like construction, manufacturing and retail have much fewer job opportunities than during Ireland's boom years, other sectors report significant numbers of vacancies and great difficulty in filling them.

What all this means is that while there is no labour shortage in Ireland, there are significant skills shortages.

Thus if you are out of work Springboard can help you to reskill and upskill so that a greater number of employment opportunities will be open to you in areas where lots of vacancies currently exist.

The most recent Forfas national skills bulletin, published in July of this year, highlights skills needs across the economy. In science, Forfas data points to shortages of chemists in product development, biologists, medical scientists and nutritionists. At technician level, shortages of laboratory analysts have been identified.

Within engineering, skills shortages have been reported in areas including: design and development (pharmaceuticals, medical devices, food processing), mechanical (renewable energy) and production (process automation and Six Sigma).

Some of the greatest shortages, however, exist in the IT sector.

The Forfas report signals that particularly high numbers of vacancies exist for senior software applications developers, network and security experts (including cloud computing specialists), system administrators, business analysts and IT project managers.

If you are out of work Springboard can provide you with the key to unlock the door back into employment. Provided you meet both the minimum entry criteria and the specific course application criteria, you are only a few steps away from being able to jump-start your career. To research the courses that still have places available, check www.bluebrick.ie/springboard. All courses are specifically targeted towards helping those with specific skills sets to upskill and reskill for work in areas where jobs are more plentiful.

Employability is a well-used 'buzz word' in today's approach to career management and the principle is simple -- the more skills you develop, the more employable you become and the more likely you are to be in work. As well as helping to develop targeted skills for specific jobs and sectors, participating in further education and training will help you to develop generic life skills such as team-working, time management, communication and organisational skills.

From an academic perspective, every module (subject area) you successfully complete as part of a Springboard course will gain you a number of credits known as ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System). These ECTS are carried with you throughout your career, allowing for the transfer of learning experiences between different institutions, greater educational mobility and more flexible routes to gain degrees.

If you are unemployed and especially if you have been unemployed long term, you are likely to be experiencing dwindling self-confidence. Sending out lots of CVs and getting no replies or no interview opportunities can be a demoralising experience. Getting as far as an interview but receiving no job offer can be equally disheartening. Improving the depth and scope of your skills will greatly improve your career prospects. In addition, the discipline of attending a course of education will increase your networking opportunities, increase your cognitive ability and keep you motivated.

While there is no absolute guarantee that a course will suit every aspect of your skills, interest, personality and values, there are excellent online career management tools which can help you to decide if a particular field is a good match for you. If you have already graduated from a course in a higher education institution within Ireland, you can sign up to complete a free online careers assessment on the Gradireland website: http://gradireland.com/careers-report. If you would like to discuss your options with a careers adviser, contact the careers service of the institution you attended as they also may be able to assist you.

If you have never attended any third-level institution you can register for and complete a similar free online assessment on the CareersPortal website: http://www.careersportal.ie /careerplanning/interests.php If you wish to discuss your options with a careers professional, there are a number of services available to help you, including: the Adult Guidance Service; your local Employment Service (LES) network; and your local Social Protection Facilitator.

If you do not meet the minimum entry criteria for any programme you are interested in, some programmes may still accept an application from you in consideration of what is known as recognised prior learning (RPL). This is where the providers may deem that other training you have undertaken or the experience you have gained in your life to date may merit your acceptance on to the programme. As such, apply for every course that interests you.

Springboard courses are completely free of charge, which includes funding of both course fees and college registration fees. You may incur other costs for items essential to your study. These may include books, specific resources you may need for class and the cost of field trips etc, if necessary. If you are worried about any incidental costs, contact the course provider for an estimate of what you will need to spend so that you can budget accordingly.

If you've been out of education for some time, then attaining a place on a Springboard programme is likely to present some challenges, as well as lots of opportunities. Being able to juggle family life with study can be difficult, particularly when you are caring for young children or family members who are in ill-health or elderly.

Within the learning environment, you may find that your computer or laboratory skills are not up to scratch or you may even experience numeracy or literacy difficulties.

Support services such as counselling, career guidance, chaplaincy and specific tutoring in areas for subjects including those such as maths and chemistry, are usually available through the mainstream education providers.

Smaller training providers will usually have a point of contact for all of these. The most important thing is to let your course provider know if you are having any difficulties in pursuing the programme so that you can be offered the support you need.

The Equal Status Acts 2000-2008 require that educational institutions do all that is reasonable to accommodate the needs of any potential student with a disability. You may prefer not to disclose your disability to the course provider if it is not relevant.

Remember, however, that if you need support, most learning organisations will have a team or individual dedicated to helping you if and when you need it.

Irish Independent Supplement

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