Skills shortage in a growing sector

Jean Ward 07.08.2017

Ireland’s employment levels have recovered from an unemployment high of 15% at the end of 2011 to less than 6.4% today resulting in an emergence of skills shortages in certain areas, engineering being one such area.

“Skills have become the global currency of the 21st century. Without proper investment in skills, people languish on the margins of society, technological progress does not translate into economic growth, and countries can no longer compete in an increasingly knowledge-based global society”

- OECD Secretary-General Angel Gurría

As per the monthly Irish Employment Monitor the number of professional roles coming in are on the increase.  According to figures, nearly 90% of Irish businesses expect to recruit in 2017. On the positive side this is great for the Irish economy and people.  People are now starting to be more open to returning home from abroad thus bringing different skills and experiences with them.  According to the CSO, figures show 21,100 Irish nationals moved back to live here in the 12 months to April 2016, up from 12,100 the previous year.

All that said we still have a serious skills shortage across a number of industries, so what is happening to reduce this shortage? According to the CAO this year the number of students seeking college places in engineering and technology has fallen this year despite high-profile attempts to tackle a skills crisis facing the sector. 

Companies are starting to work closely with universities and ITs to develop courses which are relevant to the areas where still are required, they then offer work experience to the graduates, this in turn keeps people in the country rather than moving abroad. 

Previously people feared moving from their roles due to the economic uncertainty and while certainly an element of this still exists a number of people are starting to dip their toes in the water and look outside the box.  They are also having to look at diversifying, upskilling and differentiating themselves from others in the market to ensure they secure that dream role.  

Unfortunately for HR and recruiters these numbers are not high enough to keep up with required demand. It is certainly a job seekers' market at the moment with companies scurrying to review their salaries, rewards and recognition and benefits in order to attract the best candidate for their role.

Jean Ward's picture
Consultant | Manufacturing | Cork, Kerry & The West of Ireland
jward@morganmckinley.ie