Saturday 29 November 2014

Katherine Donnelly: Pupils and parents keep eye on trends

Published 10/03/2014 | 02:30

LEAVING Certificate students and their parents have shown once again the very close attention they pay to the various predictions and promises made about where the jobs will be by the time they graduate.

Courses fall in and out of fashion with the fortunes, or misfortunes, of the various sectors of the economy.

About a decade ago, law lost some of its gloss after the setting up of the Personal Injuries Assessment Board (PIAB), now the Injuries Board, which took bread and butter work away from legal firms.

The 2008 economic crash triggered some spectacular swings in demand among CAO applicants. For instance, the rapid end to the building boom translated into a sharp decline in applications for courses leading to careers in building and construction and property.

While some lights were turned off or dimmed, strong messages were sent out urging school-leavers to switch to science and technology, because these were the sort of skills that "smart economy" employers would need.

Science climbed from being the fifth most popular of the 17 CAO categories in 2008 to its current position of third on that table. Technology, too, has enjoyed a steady rise. But a recent report from the Higher Education Authority (HEA) on the class of 2012, shows that settling into a career is a slower process for science graduates. The publication of that report in December, may very well have had a bearing on the slowdown in interest in science.

Late last year, there was news of a growing shortage of skilled graduates in the property and construction sectors, with estate agents looking to the UK to fill surveyors' jobs. The CAO figures suggest that it was music to the ears of those who would prefer a career in property to, say, science.

Irish Independent

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