SCHOOL leavers are shunning construction, property and law courses -- even though they are likely to offer the best job prospects in a few years.
Industry and college experts now fear there won't be enough graduates to fill vacancies in these areas. Students leaving school in recent years have looked at the areas worst affected by the downturn -- and decided it would be unwise to pursue a career in these areas.
But experts believe these students are making a basic mistake. "School leavers are making the mistake of basing their third-level course choices on the current economy rather than what might be happening here in four or five years' time," said Diarmuid Hegarty, president of Griffith College.
"Since the downturn we have witnessed a fall-off in courses for anything related to property, construction, engineering or law. "This has been going on since the property market crashed back in 2007.
"What it means is that these sectors are going to have trouble finding qualified people here in Ireland when they do recover." Mark FitzGerald, CEO of the Sherry FitzGerald Group, the country's largest estate agency network, is recruiting 10 new graduates this year. "I can categorically say that our sector is looking at a skills shortage in a few years' time and that for young people, now is a really good time to consider a career in property," he said.
"There's nothing better than learning when the sector is lean and there's no better place to start a career then at the bottom of a cycle."
According to UCD, first-choice applications for construction and conveyancing-related courses -- including architecture and structural engineering -- fell by 50pc in 2008 and have still not recovered. First preference applications for law courses fell by 30pc in the same period and have also not recovered. "School leavers are in that vital window at the moment where they still have some wriggle room on course choice right up to July 1," says Eilis O'Brien of UCD. "We would advise them to base their choices on what they really would like to do."
- Mark Keenan Irish Independent