When you choose a course, the most important consideration is whether you will enjoy studying the subject for three or four years.
But it also makes sense to consider employment. Students are right to question what kind of jobs a course can lead to, but with that comes another important question: What skills will this course give me?
Shauna Dunlop, Director of Strategy, Research and Evaluation, along with Solas, sits on the board of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, a further education and training agency. The group produces a regular National Skills Bulletin, which gives a snapshot of occupations in demand in the Irish labor market.
Dunlop says predicting the labor market has always been somewhat challenging, but the coronavirus crisis has made it even more so – no one could have predicted in 2016, for example, that a global The pandemic will have such an impact on the hospitality and retail sectors. Jobs.
“While they have been affected, that doesn’t mean they won’t recover,” Dunlop says. “But the impact of Covid-19 was not evenly distributed in the Irish labor market. Employment has declined for those with low levels of education and those in operational and primary roles, including sweepers, taxi drivers and waiters. In contrast, employment increased in sectors such as ICT, finance and public administration.
There is now a skill shortage in science and engineering, ICT, trade and finance, health, construction, arts, sports and tourism. For the class of 2026, it is likely that language, business, health, science and engineering graduates will still be in high demand. The current shortage of transport and logistics workers may also continue into the second half of this decade.
Construction is a sector that has traditionally seen a rise and fall in demand based on the property market, with many graduates in construction and related courses, such as quantity surveying, migrating in search of work during lean times.
“Government targets regarding climate and housing are expected to drive demand for construction-related skills across a variety of occupations, including operators, skills, trades and supervisors and engineers,” says Dunlop.
‘There has been a restructuring from the jobs we need people to work, to the skills we need to graduate.’
“With an aging demographic, the demand for healthcare services will continue to grow. The growing demand for digital skills, especially accelerated as a result of COVID-19, is likely to be across sectors. Employment in the ICT sector continued to grow during the restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 and is likely to continue well into the future. And as the transportation sector develops, the demand for people with logistics skills is expected to increase.”
Research by Solas shows that those with a level six or seven QQI Post Leaving Certificate or apprenticeship qualification had a higher employability ratio than students with a similar QQI level qualification.
About 21 percent of school-leavers go on to further education and training PLC courses beyond their Leaving Certificate and, in turn, these graduates either go on to get jobs or go on to college courses. This will not be the end of their education journey, however: today’s undergraduates are more likely to engage in postgraduate study – not just one but sometimes two master’s degrees – as well as “micro-credentials” and “modular learning”, That includes short learning periods, whether through a short online course or through an individual module.
But what is becoming more important to employers is not necessarily the job one can get, but the skills they acquire in education, such as self-efficacy, resilience, and creativity. Whatever course one ultimately chooses, whether in higher or further education, a good program will help them develop these.
Keen to develop the ‘transversal’ or ‘soft’ skills of college graduates, which include communication, analysis and problem-solving
“The job requires people to work, the skills we need to graduate,” says Dr Tony Hall, Senior Lecturer in Educational Technology at NUI Galway (NUIG) and Director of Educational Design Research for Designing Futures. ) “The pandemic has exposed the world’s uncertainty, so while discipline-specific roles of scientist, engineer, teaching, doctor or entrepreneur are still important, NUI Galway is also now delivering skills in innovation, collaboration and empathy.” (see panel for more details)
Designing the Futures, a new program at NUIG, is all about breaking down traditional academic barriers to encourage students to work in a variety of disciplines and develop new ideas and solutions for the kinds of challenges and problems they face in the real world. can be done. “One of us [NUIG] The module is on storytelling, and it works closely with students from business, humanities, medicine, education and other disciplines to develop their storytelling and communication skills,” says Hall.
NUIG’s elective modules correspond to a push in the third level to develop skills that they can apply to any job they work in.
At the third level, these types of modules are becoming increasingly common, seeking to develop the “transversal” or “soft” skills of college graduates, including communication, analysis and problem-solving: Maynooth University of the third levels is one that has developed interdisciplinary modules, while Dublin City University’s innovative Unine module, named after the late broadcaster Unin Fitzsimmons, rewards students for critically reflecting on their development through extra-college activity does.
NUIG students will also work on vertically integrated projects (VIPs), working in a multidisciplinary team of staff and students to tackle research challenges in culture, industry and society, including climate change, innovation and new product development.
“Another important motivational aspect of future designing is that it doesn’t just focus on increasing the employability of students when they graduate,” says Hall. “All round/holistic development of the student is important; As a result, through Designing the Futures, students will benefit from personalized skills training, and learning and development in tools that will come in handy throughout their lives, helping them to personally understand and make decisions about the best career and life choices. as they move forward in life. ,
Students participating in the university’s Designing Futures Project have the opportunity to work on real-world, authentic and engaging projects and works that have the potential to have a high impact in the economy, says Hall.
“student [will] Develop essential life skills that significantly enhance their employability – and be recognized and rewarded for this.”