Skills shortages in Ireland

This morning I was interviewed by Newstalk, an Irish radio station. I was asked why (apparently) companies who need to recruit skilled employees are increasingly turning to nationals of other countries rather than Irish people.

There are two key reasons for this phenomenon. It has been suggested that one reason is that skilled Irish people are pricing themselves out of the job market by making excessive salary demands – so employers turn to applicants from other countries whose expectations are more modest, particularly in times of economic uncertainty. There is probably some basis for this view at the current time.

More significant, however, is that the career aspirations of Irish young people – often informed by their parents’ ambitions for them – are not necessarily in sync with current national needs. So for example, we have known for a few years now that the growing number of job vacancies in the ICT sector cannot be filled with skilled Irish people because too few graduates with the necessary qualifications are coming through the education system. Ever since the dot.com problems earlier in this decade, students have been moving away from university programmes in computing end electronic engineering, despite repeated public statements from a number of sources that vacancies in this sector are growing.

For now, major companies in the sector can satisfy their recruitment needs by targeting skilled people from other countries. But if we continue to be unable to meet labour demands in this area, companies may conclude that Ireland is no longer the place to invest. It is therefore high time that the government, together with the secondary and third level sectors and with industry advice, address this growing risk for the country.

Explore posts in the same categories: economy, higher education, technology

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