Sunday 18 February 2018

Turning a problem into an opportunity

Why Springboard offers a chance to make a start on a new career

THERE is an old saying about not letting a crisis go to waste. It is advice worth heeding for the many thousands of people who lost their jobs in recent years.

Three in four of the almost 450,000 people who are now unemployed have never been out of work before. Many have educational qualifications, from Leaving Certificate up to degree level, and were in highly skilled, well-paid jobs.

Crisis is not too strong a term for what they would have felt in becoming unemployed in the middle of a deep recession.

While a former job -- and perhaps their skills -- may have become redundant, it is important to bear in mind that the person has not.

And those who have already worked for 10, 15 or 20 years have a considerable premium to offer employers -- experience. According to the most recent report from the Expert Group of Future Skills Needs, which advises the Government on employment trends, third-level education, experience and languages are the most frequently mentioned requirements from prospective employers.

So experience is a solid foundation on which to build a new career path; the requisite skills can be acquired quickly and easily.

Those who have lost their jobs in recent months and years may find it hard to believe that 2011 has seen a growth in the number of vacancies employers are seeking to fill, over and above what was available in 2010.

What employers are finding is that, despite the recession and the lengthening dole queues, there are shortages of people with the necessary skills for jobs in a range of areas and some vacancies are proving very difficult to fill.

The opportunities will continue to grow, many in sectors already identified, while other jobs that may be commonplace in five years time have not yet been created.

The new generation of jobs require different skills from those that went before, but for many among the ranks of the new unemployed, that will involve little more than a retuning of what they already know.

This is where Springboard comes in, offering, free, part-time courses to unemployed people leading to qualifications from certificate up to masters degree level in colleges all around Ireland. There are also distance learning possibilities.

Springboard offers a rapid turnaround in reskilling to those who already have a proven track record in the workplace, and who are far too young to retire.

There is a place for everyone, from former senior IT executives who want to move with the times to a new career in cloud computing, to those who worked in construction and now need to build a different future for themselves -- perhaps in agri-food or technology.

Around 6,000 places on Springboard have been specifically tailored to fill the vacancies that are either already there, or that employers expect to come onstream sooner rather than later.

Recent figures showing an 8pc growth in exports in the first four months of this year strike an optimistic note about employment prospects.

Export growth was fuelled by sectors such as medical devices and pharmaceutical products, which are among the areas targeted in the Springboard programme.

All the signs are that there are more jobs on the way. They will go first to those who make the quickest transition from crisis mode to college and use the time available to them now to forge a new career path.

Irish Independent Supplement

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