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 Meany from Department of Education and Skills to give some advice for people considering this job:


Paul Meany

School Principal

Department of Education and Skills


  Paul Meany

Need to have a belief about the value of the sort of education provided by the school to which you are applying.

Need to be able to cope with ambivalence - being leader in the school is not a black and white thing.

Need to believe in people, whether it is staff or students.


Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Key points for selected operatives and related occupations

  • There were approximately 70,000 persons employed in operative occupations, accounting for 3.8% of Ireland’s workforce
  • Employment of operatives was concentrated in manufacturing (mainly food and beverages; machinery and equipment; and high-tech manufacturing (e.g. pharmaceuticals))
  • In contrast to an average annual fall of 3% in national employment between 2007 and 2012, overall employment of operatives grew very modestly (by 0.5% on average annually); the number of jobs created exceeded the number of job losses, resulting in a net 1,600 additional jobs; the strongest growth was for food, drink & tobacco operatives, increasing by 20.4% on average annually (+8,600 jobs); in contrast, the strongest negative growth was for plant and machine operatives (- 12.4% on average annually (6,400 fewer jobs) 
  • Between 2011 and 2012, overall employment of operatives contracted by almost 6%, resulting in just over 4,000 fewer net jobs; most of the job losses were for chemical and related process operatives
  • With approximately one quarter of those employed aged 55 or over, construction operatives had the most mature workforce among operative occupations 
  • The overall education profile of operatives was skewed towards lower educational attainment: with the exception of food, drink & tobacco operatives and assemblers, at least one fifth (and, in the case of construction operatives, almost a half) of all employed operatives had not competed higher secondary education
  • The share of non-Irish nationals in employment in each operative occupation (except for chemical and construction operatives) exceeded the national average; at 39%, the highest share was for food, drink and tobacco operatives 
  • With the exception of assemblers and routine operatives, the workforce of each occupation was predominantly male; for assemblers and routine operatives, it was almost gender balanced

Shortage Indicators

There is currently no shortage of operative skills in Ireland

Labour Market Research 14

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

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.
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"
Addressing Future Demand for High-level ICT Skills (EGFSN) 
Study forecasting the demand for high-level ICT skills to 2018, across all sectors of the economy in Ireland.
The Green Economy in Ireland (EGFSN) 
This study identifies the future skills needs of enterprise engaged within the green economy in Ireland and proposes a range of measures to ensure that their future skills base will drive business and employment growth. The study informs education and tra
CSO - Central Statistics Office 
This is the primary source of statistical information about our population. Several of the reports generated by the CSO provide the basis of most other reports on the Labour Market.
National Skills Bulletin 2013 
Current National Skills Bulletin, providing a detailed overview of the Irish labour market. It is based on research conducted by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit of FÁS (Now SOLAS)on behalf of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs.
Vacancy Overview 2012 
Released Feb. 2013 by the skills and Labour Market Unit of FAS (now SOLAS) on behalf of the EGFSN, the report outlines areas where job vacancies arose during 2012 and areas where demand continues to exist
Skills and Labour Market Reports 
A list of current Publications directly related to Labour Market conditions produced jointly by SOLAS (formerly FAS) and the EGFSN
Forfás - Ireland's national policy and advisory board for enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation 
Forfás provides the Department of Jobs, Enterprise & Innovation (formerly Enterprise, Trade and Employment - DETE) and other stakeholders with analysis, advice and support on issues related to enterprise, trade, science, technology and innovation.
EGFSN - Expert Group on Future Skills Needs 
The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) is a body appointed by the Irish Government to advise it on aspects of education and training related to the future skills requirements of the enterprise sector of the Irish economy.
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Current Labour Market related information  3

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
Irish Independant News - Labour Market 
Current news relating to the Irish Labour market.

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