Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Paul Dowling from Teagasc to give some advice for people considering this job:


Paul Dowling



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  Paul Dowling
Ideally, try and get a job in the industry for a summer, or get a bit of experience before you go into it. You have to be happy with working outside, and doing physical work. If you are not prepared to work hard or are looking for a soft job, don't go into Landscaping. Design is very sexy at the moment, everyone wants to be a designer, a Landscape Designer. It's different on the ground, you have to be out there on sites in all weather and you have to make sure projects are managed well and you're able to muck in with everyone else. Biology is most important for anyone going into Horticulture or Landscaping as it covers propagation and helps with the identification of plant names, species and families through the universal use of Latin. Chemistry is also helpful as the use of various chemicals is a constant in horticulture. The chemical content and dangers of fertilizers, herbicides and insecticides in use in Amenity Horticulture needs to be understood anyone going into this business. Geography would be a relevant subject as well. Also, the simple things like having a full, clean driving licence, which can make you a lot more employable if you are trying for a job with a Landscape Conractor. This indicates that you are more mobile and can also drive a company van if needed. Be sure you're happy with the outdoor life. Having taken a Horticulture course will give you an advantage. However, it's possible to take a job first and study later, e.g. in IT Blanchardstown it is possible to study at night. I think you cannot beat doing the Diploma Course in the National Botanic Gardens because it is a good practical course which also covers all the theory and is invaluable for gaining plant knowledge.

Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and like commerce, trade and making deals. Some are drawn to sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or managing a section in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented, and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
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IT Professional Occupations

Key points for selected IT professional occupations

  • In 2014, there were approximately 60,000 persons employed in the selected IT occupations, representing 3% of Ireland’s workforce (Figure 9.3.1)
  • Almost half of overall employment was concentrated in the IT sector (mostly computer programming and consultancy), with an additional one fifth in industry (mostly computer, electronic and optical manufacturing)
  • Three quarters of overall employment was at professional level (of which, almost 30% were programmers & software developers); the remainder was at technician level
  • Between 2009 and 2014, overall employment in IT occupations grew at an average annual rate of 4.1% ─ one of the highest rates of growth recorded amongst the 17 broad occupational groups examined; the strongest growth rates were recorded for IT user support technicians (10.7% on average annually) and programmers & software developers (8% on average annually) (Figure 9.3.2)
  • Over the same five year period, the IT occupational group also experienced the largest absolute increase in employment (approximately 11,000); the largest increases were observed for programmers & software developers (almost 6,000) and ICT specialist & project managers (3,000)
  • Between 2013 and 2014, overall employment increased by 3,000 or 5.4% ─ exceeding the national average rate of 1.7%; the strongest growth was recorded for user support technicians
  • The majority of those employed in IT occupations were aged 25-54 (Figure 9.3.3)
  • Over four fifths of IT professionals were third level graduates; the corresponding share was almost three quarters for IT technicians (Figure 9.3.4)
  • Most of those employed in IT occupations were male and worked full-time
  • Just over 40% of employed IT user support technicians were non-Irish nationals ─ considerably above the national average share of 15%; at almost 33%, the share of non-Irish national programmers & software developers was relatively high
  • In quarter 4 2014, the overall unemployment rate for IT occupations (measuring 3%) ─ was well below the national average rate of 9.9%.

Shortage Indicators

In 2014, there were approximately 15,000 specialist IT managers, 30,000 IT professionals and 15,000 IT technicians. The demand across all IT occupations has been strong.

In 2014, over 6,500 vacancies were advertised through the PES and portals alone. Difficulty in filling vacancies has been reported: results from the Recruitment Agency Survey in May 2015, indicate that one third of all difficult to fill mentions were in relation to IT roles.

In 2014, almost 1,700 employment permits were issued to IT workers from outside the EEA - 1,600 for professionals and 100 for technicians.

IT workers are typically young (over 55s account for a small share), indicating that retirements are not a significant element of the overall demand. Attrition is somewhat higher when all exits to inactivity (e.g. home duties, study etc.) are taken into account. Turnover estimates suggest that many vacancies for IT workers arise due to intra- or inter-occupational movements. For instance, it is estimated that 14% of programmers changed employer or occupation in 2014.

Nonetheless, the demand for IT skills is growing, with expansion demand expected to push total annual recruitment requirement to over 3,500 for IT professionals and managers and a further 2,000+ for IT technicians. Numerous companies announced job creation for IT workers recently, including:

  • Global Shares (web based software)
  • Movidius (hardware and software for virtual reality headsets, drones, home automation, visionbased technology)
  • IFDS (financial software for admin solutions for investment and insurance)
  • NearForm (Node.js)
  • GuideWire Software (insurance)
  • Version 1
  • Bank of America Merrill Lynch (banking technology)
  • Dell (R&D),
  • MalwareBytes (cybersecurity)
  • Treemetrics
  • LogMein (cloud)
  • Espion (IT security)
  • Agora (applications for global publishing) and
  • SmartTech (IT security).

The 2013/2014 graduate supply from computing courses was 3,700, of which 70% were at NFQ levels 8 and above. There were a further 465 QQI awards made to learners from private colleges, three quarters of which at level 8 or above. In addition, in May 2015, there were 1,000 job ready job seekers who held third level qualifications and had previous experience in IT (600 managers and professionals, 400 technicians).

In response to the continuous shortage of IT skills, the Government has put forward the ICT skills action plan 2014-2018, which sets outs targets in relation to increasing graduate output, improving maths skills at higher secondary level and providing ICT conversion courses.

Despite significant graduate supply and a number of job seekers with IT skills (many of whom are likely to be only in frictional unemployment, given the turnover estimates), shortages of IT skills continue to exist.

While approximately one half of IT workers are employed directly in the ICT sector, IT skills are demanded by all sectors of the economy. Moreover, a shortage of IT skills is not unique to Ireland, but rather a global phenomenon.

Shortages identified for the Irish labour market include:

  • Programming and software development: programming languages (Java, J2EE, JavaScript, C++, Summit, .net, C#, JSP, JQuery, AJAX, Python, PHP); mobile applications development (iOS and Android); web development (CSS, HTML)
  • Cloud computing: Software as a Service (SaaS) and virtualisation technologies
  • Web design (niche areas only): particularly web related applications focusing on enhancing users’ online experience (UX) and supporting user interaction (UI)
  • IT project management 
  • Networking and infrastructure: IP networking and specialist roles such as software quality assurance engineers
  • IT business analysis: business intelligence and search engine optimisation
  • Databases, big data analytics and data warehousing: Oracle, SQL, MySQL, Hadoop and noSQL
  • Testing and troubleshooting: quality assurance testers
  • Technical support: user support with foreign language skills (German, French).

Labour Market Research 20

These links are to well established sources of information used to review, evaluate and predict changes in our labour market.

Future Skills Needs of the Biopharma Industry in Ireland August 2016 
This report reviews the supply of, and demand for, skills within the Biopharma Industry in Ireland up to 2020, with a specific focus on Biologics manufacturing as a growing sub-sector within the industry. It is estimated that 8,400 potential job openings
Assessing the Demand for Big Data and Analytics Skills 2013 - 2020 
May 2014 EGFSN report identifying measures to build up the Big Data and analytics talent pool in Ireland over the period up to 2020 in line with enterprise demand.
Regional Labour Markets Bulletin 2014 
Report prepared by the Skills and Labour Market
Research Unit in SOLAS aimed at providing an analysis of the key labour market indicators for each of Ireland’s eight administrative
regions: Border, Dublin, Mid-East, Midland, Mid-West, South-East, South-
Addressing the Demand for Skills in the Freight Transport, Distribution and Logistics Sector in Ireland 2015 – 2020 
February 2015 EGFSN report assessing the skills and competency requirements for the Freight Transport, Distribution and Logistics sector in Ireland up to 2020
Vacancy Overview 2014 - EFGSN 
The Vacancy Overview 2014 produced May 2015 by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in SOLAS on behalf of the EGFSN, draws on data from newly advertised job vacancies in the following sources: DSP Jobs Ireland and The analysis focuses
Monitoring Ireland's Skills Supply 
July 2015 report on those entering and leaving the Irish education system (primary, post-primary,further education and training, and higher education) spanning the ten levels of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
Regional Labour Markets Bulletin 2015 
Annual report produced by the EGFSN which identifies variations in skills supply and demand across 8 regions (Border, Dublin, Mid East, Mid-West, Midland, South East, South West and West).
Assessment of Future Skills Requirements in the Hospitality Sector in Ireland 2015-2020 
Report from the EGFSN assessing the skills demand within the Hospitality sector in Ireland to 2020 to ensure the right supply of skills to help drive domestic hospitality sector business and employment growth.
Vacancy Overview 2015 - EGFSN May 2016 
A report produced by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in SOLAS for the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs contextualising 2015 vacancy data with what is occurring in the Irish labour market
EGFSN - Report for HE Providers on Springboard 2014 / ICT Level 8 Conversion Programme 
February 2014 Report "Guidance for Higher Education providers on current and future skills needs of enterprise - Springboard 2014 / ICT Level 8 Conversion Programme"
Next Last

Current Labour Market Info 4

These sites provide news of current events that relate to our evolving labour market.

IBEC Quarterly Economic Trends 
Download publication in PDF format.
SCSI Employment Opportunities & Skills Requirements for Construction and Property Surveying 2014-18 
New report April 2014 from SCSI outlining the Employment Opportunities and Skills Requirements for Construction and Property Surveying projected from 2014-2018
Shortage of craft/entry level staff in the Hotel Sector 
Hotels and guesthouses are experiencing serious difficulties recruiting suitably qualified craft/entry level staff - IHF Annual Conference 24/2/14
National Skills Bulletin 2015 
The National Skills Bulletin 2015 provides an overview of the Irish labour market at occupational level, drawing on a variety of data sets, which have been systematically gathered in the National Skills Database (NSD) since 2003.

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