In a recent interview with the Irish Times entitled Getting a Job in 2020, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs Chairperson Una Halligan outlined some of the key areas identified as employment opportunities for the future.
Across sectors there is a demand for personnel with foreign language proficiency and cultural awareness, and marketing and sales skills arising from companies’ drive to increase their exports of goods and services.
“Take a language module. Work in a European country during the summer. If we want to sell ourselves internationally, English just isn’t enough anymore.”
In its recent report, the EGFSN urged all business schools to incorporate a business language module so that graduates can communicate with clients overseas. Cultural organisations such as Alliance Francaise, Goethe Institut and Instituto Cervantes also run regular language courses.
There are other skills, besides languages, that will be valuable in 2020. Top of this list are computer skills. “Students with maths and statistics are in demand, and this is a demand that will grow,” says Halligan. “Every retailer needs people who can analyse data. So do insurance firms, accountants, finance firms and banks. Electronic engineering graduates are needed, both to develop hardware components and software. The biopharma and medical devices industries are huge, just listen to the job announcements.”
“By the time students graduate from quantity surveying or architecture courses, they will be coming out in a healthy position. Students with a good education from a recognised college will always be able to travel with those skills, and quantity surveyors and architects will always be wanted worldwide. Many of the Irish people with those skills are still in Canada, Australia and New Zealand. If they stay there, Ireland will have shortages in five years’ time.”
Cross Cutting Skills Needs
In addition to core technical skills it is essential for students to build up their “soft skills” competencies. These include entrepreneurship, commercial awareness, critical thinking, team-working, communications, ethics and adaptability. Skills required for creativity, design and innovation are needed in all industries and in all occupations to varying degrees. Creativity relies heavily on finding new ways to combine existing ideas. In skills terms, this means that the capability to work well with people whose skills lie in other areas is critical.
The full interview can be accessed online.
The CareersPortal Team