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 Elaine McGarrigle from CRH plc to give some advice for people considering this job:


Elaine McGarrigle

Mechanical Engineer

CRH plc

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  Elaine McGarrigle

The most important skill that a person in my position can have is communication.

One needs to be able to communicate effectively with people of all levels in order to do a days work. I think that this is the most important quality, to be able to fit in well with people, everyone from the operators to the senior management, one needs to be able to read them and how best to communicate with them.

An interest in basic engineering and in the heavy machine industry.

It is important to realise that working as a mechanical engineer in Irish Cement does not generally involve sitting at your desk all day. It involves alot of hands on, on-site work so a person needs to be prepared to get their hands dirty.

Another quality that is important is to be willing to learn. Even after a number of years in college, one needs to be eager to learn the ins and outs of a new environment; how cement is made, what equipment is involved, what generally goes wrong and how it is fixed.

Everyone will help and teach you but you need to open your mind and be prepared to take it all in.


Administrative people are interested in work that offers security and a sense of being part of a larger process. They may be at their best operating under supervisors who give clear guidelines, and performing routine tasks in a methodical and reliable way.

They tend to enjoy clerical and most forms of office work, where they perform essential administrative duties. They often form the backbone of large and small organisations alike. They may enjoy being in charge of office filing systems, and using computers and other office equipment to keep things running smoothly. They usually like routine work hours and prefer comfortable indoor workplaces.
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Engineering Occupations

Key points for selected engineering occupations

  • In 2014, there were approximately 23,000 persons employed in the selected engineering occupations, representing 1.2% of national employment (Figure 9.2.1)
  • Approximately half of overall employment was concentrated in manufacturing (mostly pharmaceuticals and machinery/equipment), with an additional one fifth concentrated in professional, scientific and technical activities (mostly architectural & engineering activities; technical testing and analysis)
  • Almost 60% of total employment in the selected engineering occupations was at a professional level (i.e. engineers); the remainder was at technician level
  • Between 2009 and 2014, employment growth in engineering occupations was the strongest recorded amongst the 17 broad occupational groups examined (6.5% on average annually); with the exception of other engineering professionals, employment expanded in all occupations, with the strongest growth rates observed for production, design & QC engineers (12.2% on average annually) and electrical/electronic engineers (11.2% on average annually) (Figure 9.2.2)
  • Over the same five year period, in absolute terms, employment increased by approximately 6,000; the largest increase was recorded for production, design & QC engineers (almost 3,000); meanwhile, employment in other engineering professionals remained relatively static
  • Between 2013 and 2014, overall employment in engineering occupations contracted by 1.8%; with the exception of other engineering professionals,employment levels in all occupations remained relatively static
  • Over four fifths of persons employed in each occupation was aged 25-54 (Figure 9.2.3)
  • Just over 90% of employed engineering professionals held third level qualifications; the share was almost 75% for engineering technicians (Figure 9.2.4)
  • The share of females employed in engineering professional occupations
    (15%) and technician occupations (21%) was well below the national average (46%); the overall workforce of process, production and QA technicians had the highest share of females, at 35%
  • The majority of employed engineering professionals and technicians worked fulltime and were Irish-nationals
  • In quarter 4 2014, the overall unemployment rate for engineering occupations (at 5.1%) was well below the national average rate of almost 10%.

Shortage Indicators

In 2014, 13,000 engineers and 10,000 engineering technicians were working in Ireland, with the majority employed in the manufacturing and professional, scientific and technical activities sectors.

The age profile of engineering occupations is somewhat younger than the national average (particularly for electronic, design and development engineers). In addition, exits to economic inactivity are not estimated to be large, with the total annual replacement demand (including retirement) estimated at 1,500.

However, the expected strong performance of the professional, scientific and technical services sector, as well as the move to higher value added activities in manufacturing, is likely to bring the annual recruitment requirement to well over 2,000.

Strong demand for engineering skills is confirmed in numerous job announcements, including ABEC (engineered process equipment for biopharmaceutical manufacturing), EPS(water and wastewater treatment), Schwungrad Energie Limited (Europe’s first grid connected to a hybrid flywheel system service facility).

The vacancy data for 2014 supports this finding (3,000 vacancies advertised on the PES and portals alone), although a share of vacancies for engineers is arising due to turnover, which is somewhat more pronounced in the area of quality control.

The number of third level engineering graduates is estimated at just fewer than 4,300 (2013/2014), of which approximately one half are at honours bachelor degree or postgraduate level. This does not include graduates from the new provision in polymer technology in Sligo IT (level 6/7) and Athlone IT (level 8). In addition, in May 2015, there were 400 engineers and 270 engineering technicians (third level graduates) who were job-ready job seekers.

Despite a significant supply of engineering skills emerging from the education system and a number of unemployed persons with engineering skills, shortages continue to exist. In 2014, 380 engineers were sourced from outside the EEA.

At professional level shortages of the following skills have been identified:

  • Production and process engineering - process automation and system control (computer numerical control (CNC), computer aided design (CAD), computer aided manufacturing (CAM)), production planning and supply chain management and integration (e.g. medical devices, biotech and pharmaceuticals)
  • Product development and design engineering (in medical devices, biotech and the pharmaceutical industry)
  • Quality control, assurance and validation engineering (e.g. computer validation systems, regulatory compliance.
  • Electrical engineering (e.g. electrical safety testing for medical devices)
  • Electronic engineering
  • Chemical engineering - specialised roles in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry
  • Mechanical engineering - waste water and purification treatment, polymer and injection moulding.


At technician level, shortages have been identified in the area of electronic engineering (generic roles and in Surface Mount Technology (SMT)/PTH Rework Operators (electronic printed circuit board assembly (PCBA).


Labour Market Research 19

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

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
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.
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).
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)
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
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
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-
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.
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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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