“The Higher Education Authority’s latest report on graduate outcomes states that job prospects for graduates are improving, with over 8 per cent of graduates in employment or due to start a job within nine months of completing their third-level studies”
Career prospects appear to be bright for fresh graduates entering the Irish labour market in 2019, as figures show accelerated job growth. Despite numerous concerns, the economic environment is largely optimistic, and there is an increasing range of opportunities across various sectors of the economy.
The Central Bank of Ireland estimates that unemployment is down to 5 per cent in the first quarter of 2019, and employment growth is expected to remain positive for the foreseeable future. Female labour force participation has also shown an increasing trend. Recent graduates have much to celebrate: The Higher Education Authority’s latest report on graduate outcomes states that job prospects for graduates are improving, with over 78 per cent of graduates in employment or due to start a job within nine months of completing their third-level studies. Of these, 90 per cent have secured employment within Ireland.
Others were engaged in further education, seeking employment, or engaged in other activities such as travelling or volunteering. The average full-time salary was reported to be €33,574, with graduates in the field of education, engineering, and information and communication technology (ICT) commanding the highest entry-level salaries. International graduates have fared well too, with 75 per cent having found employment since graduating.
Data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) complements these findings: A decline was registered in the number of emigrants since 2018, and Ireland saw a net inward migration of 33, 700 between April 2018 and April 2019.
As business confidence remains high, graduate recruitment is set to increase across all major sectors of the Irish economy. “Over 80 per cent of employers are planning to increase or retain their levels of graduate recruitment”, gradireland.com’s Ruairi Kavanagh told The Irish Times. The largest sectors in terms of employment include accounting, consulting and financial services, engineering, information technology, law and legal services, retail and consumer goods, recruitment and human
resources, and science. With employment growth at ‘full employment’ levels, job seekers can now expect to demand higher salaries.
Students’ disciplinary preferences mirror their preoccupation with future employment prospects, with CAO points required for entry into economics, finance, and engineering courses seeing a sharp increase in 2019. Employers are looking to attract flexible and dynamic graduates with a global outlook, and cite severe shortages in foreign language skills a major concern.
“This need will be amplified by Brexit, as Ireland will be the only English-speaking country in the European Union. If you can match business acumen with data analytics and a foreign language, you would be perfect for a company looking to project abroad – especially in EU markets,” says Kavanagh.
In light of this fact, the falling demand for courses in modern languages (including business courses with a language option) is a cause for concern.
Unfortunately, not all is rosy: The likely event of a No-Deal Brexit threatens the Irish economy and consequently, jobs on the island. Increasing female participation in the labour force remains a challenge, given the lack of availability of affordable childcare, reflective of a structural issue that necessitates policy intervention.
Simultaneously, concerns over poor working conditions faced by teachers and medical professionals remain ripe, with many graduates in these fields moving abroad to pursue better opportunities.
Employers are also confronted with inflationary wage pressures: With wages increasing at an annual growth rate of 3.5 per cent according to the latest data from CSO, there is a renewed fear of consumer price inflation and overheating. Furthermore, the housing crisis and rental shortages in Dublin add to the difficulty of retaining employees.
With immigration being a major driver of job growth, an overhaul of the strained and at times frustrating visa and immigration regime is needed, in addition to housing reform. Lastly, with concerns of a global recession on the horizon, Ireland must take strategic policy measures to ensure labour market resilience.