Ireland is facing a shortage of engineers, with over half of STEM-focused companies reporting challenges recruiting technical staff.
Simon Harris, Ireland's Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation, and Science presented this update to the National Economic Dialogue. He focused on an ongoing need across the nation, which has been brought into sharper contrast as the country moves through its recovery from the pandemic. He emphasized that:
“It is vital as we seek to rebuild post-pandemic that people are retrained and reskilled in areas where there are skills shortages or in areas where there will be economic growth”
To encourage reskilliing, he announced the provision of 10,000 free places on almost 300 Springboard+ courses earlier this month, which are due to be made available in 2021.
The courses will enable people to upskill in areas such as cybersecurity, virtual reality, health innovation and logistics – all areas in need of workers.
Harris cited research carried out by the Solas - a state agency tasked with building a world class Further Education and Training (FET) system - which found there was a particular skills shortage in the STEM industry.
“Work by Solas has found over half of science, engineering and technology companies are having difficulty in recruiting software developers, designers, engineers and technical support staff.”
He also said that a third of recruiters in the construction industry were facing challenges in recruiting quantity surveyors, civil engineers, site engineers, scaffolders, and pipe layers.
“This is in stark contrast to 4 percent of companies facing difficulties in recruiting accountants and 9 percent finding it difficult to recruit those in transport and storage.”
Harris added that the impact of the pandemic on the labour market had to be fixed and that specific attention would need to be paid to address the imbalances created by the pandemic.
“Our work shows the impacts of Covid-19 on the economy have impacted certain cohorts of workers – female, younger – to a greater extent and specific attention will need to be paid to these cohorts in the post-Covid recovery,” he said.
“It is clear there is a skills mismatch which we need to try and fix. It is critically important Government and industry focus now on the areas where we need people and talent.”
He also outlined plans to develop a new pact with businesses across the country to address the issues and to publish a new literacy plan in the summer months. Earlier this month, Harris announced a multimillion-euro investment to upskill those whose jobs are unlikely to return post-pandemic and prepare technological universities for the future.
Sign up to get our monthly newsletter and updates about RNN.