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Strongest skills demand in construction, professional, ICT and finance

Minister Bruton launches SOLAS’ National Skills Bulletin 2017

Wednesday 6th December 2017 – Over one million workers transitioned within the Irish labour market in 2016 and the strongest demand for skills was in the construction, professional, ICT, financial and industrial sectors.

Unemployment also declined by over 30,000 during 2016 to a level of 7.9%.

These are among the key findings of the National Skills Bulletin 2017 which was launched today by Minister for Education and Skills, Richard Bruton T.D. Produced by SOLAS, the state body with responsibility for funding, planning and co-ordination of further education and training in Ireland, the Bulletin provides an overview of the Irish labour market at occupational level, by examining a variety of indicators on demand and supply. This is the thirteenth in an annual series of reports produced by SOLAS’ team of labour market economists and researchers, in association with the National Skills Council.

The objective of the Bulletin is to inform policy formulation in the areas of employment, education/training, career guidance and immigration. The Bulletin also aims to assist students, job seekers, persons returning to the labour force, investors and employers in making labour market decisions.

As Ireland continued to experience a strengthening labour market, notable findings are:

  • Over 1.1 million labour market transitions occurred in the Irish labour market in 2016;

  • Changes of employer were most frequent for professionals (IT programmers, doctors), skilled trades (electricians, carpenters), hospitality workers (chefs, waiters, catering assistants and managers, bar staff), services (hairdressers, child-minders, sales) and operatives (assemblers, construction, storage);

  • The strongest employment growth categories were professional occupations, operatives, and managers and the strongest sector for employment growth was construction;

  • Only 4% of those with a 3rd level qualification in 2016 were unemployed, 8% for those with higher secondary or FET levels of education or training and 12% for those with lower secondary level education or less.

  • During 2016, employers continued to source skills from outside the EEA. Approximately 7,700 new employment permits were issued in 2016, a 27% increase on the previous year; and

  • While shortages exist for a number of occupations across all sectors of the economy, many of these are small in magnitude and in particular niche areas requiring a number of years’ experience.

Richard Bruton T.D., Minister for Education and Skills commented;

“If our education system is to be the best in Europe by 2026, it must, among other things, be responsive to the changing needs of the Irish labour market. The National Skills Bulletin is extremely useful in this regard, in helping us identify the future needs of our economy and I would like to commend SOLAS for producing it.

“Overall, the report paints a very positive picture of the Irish economy, showing that 56,000 more people are now in work than were at the start of the year. We are seeing a reduction in youth unemployment, a significant reduction in long-term unemployment and a return to positive net migration, with over 16,000 more people coming into Ireland, than leaving in 2016. This year, for the first time, the Bulletin gives us an interesting insight into movement within the employment figures, telling us that there were 1.1 million ‘transitions’ within the Irish labour market. That means 1.1 movements within employment, from employment to employment, from employment to retirement or inactivity, from inactivity to employment, unemployment to employment and so on.

“All sectors of the economy saw employment grow, with the strongest demand for skills in the construction, professional, ICT, financial and industrial sectors. Our education system is responding to this demand. Just last week, we launched a new STEM strategy, aimed at making Ireland the best at STEM within a decade. We’ll also be launching new apprenticeships in a number of the identified areas over the coming weeks.”

Paul O’Toole, CEO of SOLAS commented;

“By providing 300,000 further education and training places each year SOLAS is striving to meet the needs of learners, employers and communities. With 21,000 transitions taking place each week there is a constant challenge for SOLAS to meet, anticipate and plan for the rolling skills needs of the Irish labour force. Thankfully, the results of this National Skills Bulletin paint a positive picture of where we are heading.”

“Providing people with opportunities at all stages of their life to improve their skills or engage in further education makes a real, tangible difference to peoples’ lives. The 2017 National Skills Bulletin contains much information to help guide public policy and inform our decision making in SOLAS but we must never lose sight of this simplest of all messages: learning works.”


The full National Skills Bulletin 2017 is available here

For more information contact:
Cian Connaughton, MKC Communications – +353 876480809
Maria Walshe, SOLAS – +353 87 2074280

SOLAS is the state agency with responsibility for funding, planning and co-ordinating further education and training in Ireland. SOLAS' functions are to manage, co-ordinate and support the delivery of this integrated Further Education and Training by the Education and Training Boards (ETBs); to monitor delivery and provide funding based on reliable, good quality data and positive outcomes; and to promote Further Education and Training provision that is relevant to individual learner needs and national skills needs. This includes the needs of business and future skills requirements.

The Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) provides a data gathering, analytical and research resource on the supply and demand of skills in Ireland. The Unit’s outputs support the work of Government Departments, agencies and education and training providers. The SLMRU also supports the work of the National Skills Council, the Regional Skills Fora and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs.