Wednesday 19 December 2018

From gizmo designer to city farmer: jobs for the class of 2013

Roisin Burke looks at the cutting-edge trends for when the latest crop of Leaving Cert students finally hits the market

Roisin Burke

WEDNESDAY is the day of truth for 57,000 Leaving Cert survivors, when they get their exam results. This is followed by the first round of CAO offers next Monday.

It's all bound to focus their minds on where the job prospects might lie when they emerge from three or four beer-drenched carefree years at college and set about trying to build a future.

Gazing into our digitally optimised crystal ball, we've speculated on several possible cool job trends that are likely to grow in importance in the next few years.

 

Device-design wunderkind

Futuristic fantasy gizmos have become a current day reality and dream machines need builders of dreams.

The past few years have been all about smartphones and tablets, but that's the least of it. A raft of new amazing digital devices are en route and the talent to develop them is likely to be in hot demand.

Google Glass, the search colossus's voice-controlled computer headset that projects the wearer into an augmented reality is just the start of it. Google X lab, a creative nerve centre in Silicon Valley, is reputed to be working on things as diverse as a self-driving car, a space lift and computerised contact lenses.

At Apple, the iWatch, thought to be the next multifunctional must-have megagadget, aimed at being as indispensable as the iPhone, is on its way in 2014, according to the Mac rumour mill. Apple has put together a crack team to deliver it.

The jobs requirements for creating category-defining gadgets of the near future span the gamut from software and hardware engineers to designers to fashion branders to fingerprint authentification experts. Apple has even poached staff from medical companies to work on its secret projects.

 

Urban farmer

Food security is set to remain an enduring preoccupation for years to come against the background of food price inflation and an increasing world population. It's driving a trend to produce far more in smaller and more urban spaces and radical farming format solutions like vertical farming.

Concerns about the future of food supply is boosting the prospects for farming as a promising career — as well as work in hi-tech food and agriscience.

Futurists envisage farming practised not over wide open plains but in big glass skyscrapers, with layers of crops supported by artificial light.

Indoor urban agriculture can produce many multiples of outdoor crops per acre it's claimed, with less exposure to pests and disease and natural disasters.

The Swedes are all over it — they've built Plantagon International, a big vertical farming greenhouse that's low in energy and needs less water and pesticides and delivers fresh organic vegetables. The originators have launched a similar project in Shanghai.

Sustainable farming methods like aquaponics (sustainable fish and crop farming in water tanks where waste from the fish provides nutrients for the crops and the plants filter the water for the fish) are attracting increasing interest.

Dublin already has its first urban farm in an old factory in Dublin's city centre, where Urbanfarm.ie grows crops in indoor aquaponic allotments and on its rooftop for local city restaurants.

 

Wind energy financiers

The jury is out on how many jobs the installation of the 1,700 giant wind turbines all over the midlands to supply the British energy market by companies like Eddie O'Connor's Mainstream Renewables will deliver, but the broader area of renewable energy is backed by major government jobs-driven investment.

The aim is to make Ireland the biggest wind and wave energy generating centre in Europe.

A €15m research lab in Ringaskiddy is due to open next year to design and test wave energy devices, which will employ 200 people and power up turnover in the maritime sector by €6.4bn a year by 2020.

All sorts of financial job opportunities are attached to the alternative energy investment industry.

Funds like ex- Bord Gais CEO John Mullin's IFSC-based Amarenco, a €150m target investor, launches in September. The IFSC plans to bring in over €10bn worth of green finance funds to Dublin's financial centre, building on the over €2.5bn already there.

 

Global fashionistas

The Irish have been cutting quite a dash in the international fashion arena for several decades now and the trend looks set to continue.

There are well established figures such as Don O'Neill, a favourite of Oprah and Mariah Carey, feted milliner Philip Treacy and the Duchess of Cambridge's regular choice Orla Kiely, and Joanne Hynes, whose collections have been shown in London and Paris and who has dressed Jessie J and Paloma Faith.

Hynes' accessories have featured in shoots for Vogue.

There is room for more — newer names on the block include Lady Gaga avant garde stylist Sorcha O'Rahilly, designer Sinead Doyle and hat maker Edel Ramberg, who are all making their mark.

On the more commercial end, Penneys runs its expanding Primark empire buying, merchandising and IT nerve centre out of Dublin, employing hundreds of people.

 

Oil and gas wildcatters

The recent disappointment of industry leader Exxon deciding not to drill further in Irish waters dampened the prospects of Ireland as the next Scotland or Norway for oil and gas prospects, but there is still jobs promise for future years.

A find by Providence Resources has a target of producing 1.6bn barrels of oil and other companies including Fastnet Oil have high expectations for offshore Ireland. Ten consortiums have taken up new licences to explore or drill off the west coast and even the early exploration stage feeds employment.

Failing that, there are overseas opportunities for geophysicists, geologists, engineers, environmental specialists and project managers at oil and gas fields globally from Texas to Uganda.

Even as renewable energy grows in importance, more than 50 per cent or so of the world's energy needs still need to be met by fossil fuels for the foreseeable future. A single find in Ireland could provide up to 800 jobs over several decades. Several finds would deliver thousands of jobs.

 

Medical informatics

The role of technology in medical areas and the jobs skills attached to that are flourishing in Ireland.

Medical informatics is one new area, which involves pulling together and efficiently managing patients' information digitally for better care and treatment. A new crop of degree and masters courses is beginning to deliver its first graduates here.

More broadly, medtech, producing devices and drugs for everything from heart disease to cancer treatment, is worth over €7bn in Irish exports and employs 25,000 people here.

Blockbuster drug developer The recent sale of Irish pharma company Elan was boosted by the royalties from its revolutionary multiple sclerosis treatment, Tysabri.

The State is putting over €200m into seven research centres for the pharma sector for the next six years, most recently €40m into a planned global research hub in University of Limerick, partnering with multinational drug developers Pfizer and GSK, with €100m backing from them.

Already pharma employs 60,000 people here, and 800 high quality science jobs are targeted from this initiative.

 

Big data curator

Ireland has become a venue of choice for giant data sheds for Microsoft, Google and others.

Dell Ireland chief Liam Halpin recently said the graduate talent pool here was an attraction for digital industries to site here.

The big data warehouses themselves don't require major employment beyond systems engineers and centre managers but the logic is that creating a data cluster here adds to Ireland's attraction as a cloud computing digital data tech destination for the next Microsofts and Googles, luring in more high-profile names to set up European headquarters here and bring more tech jobs with them

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