Wednesday 21 March 2018

Filling the gaps

With a number of industries developing strongly in Ireland, there is continuing demand for a range of skills which are not available to the level required within the Irish workforce

Diverse People and Training Concepts
Diverse People and Training Concepts
REPRO FREE: Dublin 17th June 2014: at the Springboard Dublin Roadshow, where thousands of jobseekers received free career advice Picture Jason Clarke Photography

Industry is growing in Ireland. Despite the jobs that have been shed during the recession and continuing relatively high level of unemployment, a number of sectors are booming and jobs are available.

There is, however, a key issue for those wishing to pursue a career in growing areas. These developing sectors require new kinds of skills and knowledge. For example, as a result of the growing role of biotechnology in drug treatment, those working on the production of drugs need to have a high level of knowledge and practice of clean production to ensure non-contamination within the process. The Springboard+ initiative offers unemployed people the opportunity to undertake qualifications at certificate, degree and post-graduate level in key areas where enterprise is growing and expanding. As well as their previous employment experience, Springboard+ participants are adding new skills and knowledge to their career in a new sector.

Where can you upskill for employment with the help of Springboard+?

Each year skills shortages in Ireland are identified through a range of sources which include the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit, SOLAS and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs.

Information and communications technology

The ICT Sector in Ireland attracts global investment with nine of the top 10 US ICT companies operating here, and all ten of the 'Born on the Internet' companies. There are over 200 IDA- supported ICT companies, directly employing approximately 37,000 people. They represent 22% of total exports, estimated at €35 billion. In addition, Ireland is showing the world the way in fostering and delivering cloud computing services. Key skills for the ICT sector continue to be the most frequently mentioned as difficult to source by recruitment agencies. Demand is exceeding supply for a wide range of software design and development roles, including in web applications, user experience and interaction, 'the cloud', database architecture, network engineering and mobile technology applications. Data analytics, which has the potential to create significant additional employment in the economy, involves the mining, analysis, interpretation and utilisation of Data including Big Data (obtaining and utilising large volumes of data in structured and unstructured forms). Globally, there is a reported shortage of skilled professionals with data analytics skills.

ICT-related job creation is expected to be sustained as Ireland continues to be a high profile, world-class destination for ICT activities and investment. Companies announcing expansion in Ireland in 2015 include Apple, LogMeIn, LexisNexis, IBM, MalwareBytes, IDT911, and Dell.

Skills for Manufacturing: BioPharma - PharmaChem

Nine of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies are located in Ireland, with seven of the top 10 'pharmaceutical blockbusters' produced here. The main pharmaceutical activities carried out in Ireland are Research and Development, Global Business Service Centres, High Value Manufacturing, Headquarters and IP Management and Supply Chain Management. Over 24,000 people are employed in the sector in Ireland today, with a similar amount employed in businesses providing services to the sector. Jobs that companies seek to fill in the sector typically include laboratory and engineering technicians, engineering professionals, scientists and business and finance staff including regulatory and supply-chain professionals. Companies announcing expansion in Ireland in 2015 to-date include ABEC Inc, Zimmer and Bausch + Lomb.

Skills for Manufacturing: Medical technologies ('MedTech')

Ireland, the second largest exporter of MedTech in Europe produces €9.4 billion of exports annually. This includes 50% of ventilators used in acute hospitals worldwide, and 33% of the world's contact lenses. 30 million diabetics (one in four) per year use Irish-made injectable devices. 25,000 people are employed in the sector, representing the highest employment per capita of Medical Technology personnel in Europe. Eight of the top 10 global companies have a manufacturing base in Ireland, with a total of 250 companies of varying sizes operating here. Medical Technologies activities include research and development, high value manufacturing, globally traded services, IP management and Supply Chain Management in the cardiovascular and cardiac rhythm management, orthopaedic, diagnostic and ophthalmic sectors. Jobs that companies seek to fill in the sector typically include positions at varying levels in the areas of manufacturing process, engineering, and quality control. The continuing increase in demand for healthcare and healthcare products is expected to be driven by the aging population, greater expectations and a higher awareness of health issues. Companies working in Ireland include Boston Scientific, Medtronic, and Teleflex. Companies announcing expansion in Ireland in 2015 to-date include Abbvie, CRI and MossVision Inc.

Other manufacturing

Leading providers of industrial products have chosen Ireland as a location for activities such as high value manufacturing, supply chain management and research and development. Ancillary activities include international services and intellectual property management. The sector in Ireland ranges from companies in the automotive sector and aerospace industry to those operating in mechanical and electrical engineering, fluid components, process equipment and materials handling.

International financial services

More than 250 global financial institutions have established operations in Ireland, with many located in Dublin's International Financial Services Centre. The IFSC was created by the Irish Government in 1987 to drive the development of the sector, and employs over 36,000 people. The IFSC now houses many of the world's leading financial institutions, with activities including Banking/Asset Financing, Corporate Treasury, Asset Management, Securitisation, Mutual Funds, Insurance and Pensions. A range of other functions support these core activities. The average salary for workers in the IFSC is €60,100.

Despite job losses, high level financial skills in the areas of risk and quantitative analysis, process innovation and product development, accounting, actuarial, project management and compliance and regulatory standards are in short supply. Financial experts with proficiency in financial software packages (e.g. SAP) can be particularly difficult to source. Demand for high level financial skills is expected to be driven by the global recovery, reform of the banking system, product innovation, changes in the regulatory environment and attitudes to risk. Firms announcing expansion in Ireland in 2015 include NuoDB, Megatransfert SAS, and Lemanik.

Skills to Trade Internationally

Ireland is a highly export-orientated economy, the world is now seen as our oyster from an economic and enterprise point of view. Successfully exploiting the global opportunities is not just about creating products and services at home, companies then need the right skill set to successfully sell those products and services in foreign markets. There are skills shortages currently in Irish enterprise to support the activities associated with trading internationally. This is particularly the case for Irish small and medium-sized enterprises. Areas where there are demand for skills and employment opportunities include global and international management skills (particularly around planning and market research); foreign language proficiency; international sales and marketing skills, distribution and installation skills (e.g. project management, supply chain management); product/service design skills; and customer service and support skills. Combinations of these skills within the same individual are also in demand.

Cross-enterprise skills

A number of skills gaps have emerged across sectors which include the need to improve mathematical proficiency and foreign language capabilities (e.g. for international trade, see above), to develop business acumen and entrepreneurship in tandem with technical skills (for example within software engineering), to develop skills for creativity, innovation and design, and improving generic skills such as communication, project management and team working. Data analytics and 'big data' skills are rapidly becoming highly sought-after across enterprises.

The EGFSN has identified other skills needs such as management skills, creativity, and logistics.

Construction skills

In 2014, the construction sector was responsible for 45% of all the additional jobs created in the economy. In Q1 2015 alone, over 6,000 jobs were added in the sector. The sector is benefiting from high levels of foreign direct investment across the country, from such companies as Regeneron, investing $300m in a new facility in Limerick; Apple, building an €850m data centre in Galway; and Alexion Pharmaceuticals, with a planned €450m new facility in Blanchardstown. Construction tradespersons and professionals such as architects will increasingly require 'green' construction skills. There are already some indications of a shortage of construction and property surveyors in the economy. ICT competencies are becoming increasingly important in construction projects, in particular Building Information Modelling (BIM) and energy retrofit skills.


The Government stated in the 2014 Action Plan for Jobs that its ambition is for Ireland to be among the most entrepreneurial nations in the world and acknowledged as a world-class environment in which to start and grow a business.

The Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute (GEDI) ranks Ireland as the 19th best country in the world for entrepreneurial development. GEDI's Female Entrepreneurship Index 2015 places Ireland 11th overall for female entrepreneurial development, up from 16th in 2014. In 2014 alone, Enterprise Ireland funded 183 start-ups.

Irish Independent

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