Note: There are a number of occupations discussed in this section which, for simplicity purposes, are referred to as labourers; these include cleaners, porters, sorters, various types of mates and other occupations not elsewhere classified.
Key points for selected labourers
- In 2015, approximately 145,000 persons were employed in elementary occupations, representing 7.4% of total employment nationally.
- Almost two thirds (or 93,000 persons) were employed in elementary cleaning, construction and sales & storage occupations.
- Between 2010 and 2015, overall employment contracted by 1.1% on average annually (in contrast to average annual growth of 0.8% nationally); there were 8,500 net job losses over that period.
- Over the five-year period, employment contracted for most occupations, with the strongest rates of decline observed for elementary services occupations (5.3% on average annually), elementary construction and administrative occupations (each by 4% on average annually), and process plant (3.4% on average annually).
- The largest absolute declines were observed for elementary construction occupations (7,000), process plant and administrative occupations (2,000 each).
- In contrast, employment of cleaners expanded (3.5% on average annually, or 6,500 persons)
- Between 2014 and 2015, overall employment contracted by 1.5% (in contrast to a 2.6% increase nationally).
- There were 2,000 net job losses over that period; the largest declines were for elementary construction occupations.
- The age profile of those employed in elementary administrative (i.e. postal workers, mail sorters) and security occupations was the most mature, with 27% and 20% aged 55 or older respectively (exceeding the national average share).
- The overall education profile of persons employed in elementary occupations was skewed towards the lower end of the educational attainment spectrum; One third had attained lower secondary or less qualifications (double the national average share); 50% had attained higher secondary/FET qualifications (compared to the national average share of 37%), and 16% had third level qualifications (a third of the national average share).
- Employment in most occupations was predominantly male; however, almost 70% of employed cleaners and 30% of elementary process plant workers were female.
- At almost 60%, the prevalence of part-time work was the highest for cleaners ─ one of the highest shares among all occupations in the national workforce.
- Almost 50% of employed cleaners were non-Irish nationals ─ one of the highest shares among all occupations in the national workforce; the share was also relatively high for elementary process plant workers (43%) and agriculture occupations (30%).
The data on labour market transitions, job seekers and vacancies highlights the transitory nature of employment in elementary occupations (e.g. cleaners, security guards, routine testers, elementary construction workers, agricultural labourers etc.).
There is a higher than average share of non-Irish nationals employed in elementary occupations.
Attracting and retaining elementary workers will become increasingly challenging as job opportunities increase across all sectors of the economy, although there is currently no evidence of shortage of labourers in Ireland.