Manpower shortages in Ireland

I read reports on the annual statement from the American Chamber of Commerce that points to the large number of jobs that are unfilled in American companies in Ireland. Isn’t that amazing, presuming that it is true? It confirms the anecdotes I heard when in Ireland from leaders of industry. Even large employers had to “import” some groups of employees as they could not find them in Ireland. This is very bad for Ireland as “available talented graduates “ is one of the core attractants overseas investors. It is not the only one of course, but it is essential if high value jobs are to be created.
It should not be like this. Ireland has one of the highest percentages world-wide of young people that go onto third level education (over 50% last time I saw statistics). Indeed the stated plan is for the number to increase to over 70%. So I conclude that the students are not taking the courses that are needed for the economy, or that the third level courses are not delivering the goods that are needed. The second possibility suggests that there should be some analysis of the match and relevance of the courses and the colleges “encouraged” to adjust their offerings if they are not what is needed. A survey of the companies that are currently looking for people would allow a quick identification of gaps if they exist.
The first, and I suspect real, problem is that the laissez faire attitude towards the selection of courses by students leaves no possibility for manpower planning. The country subsidies these studies and should end up having the right skilled workforce in return. Who is responsible for getting this equation right? Many would argue that any form of third level education is of benefit and I would agree……but it is not a civil right and it would be very non-interventionalist if steps are not taken to try to get a more appropriate return on the investment. With fees and variations on the wording of that theme becoming a reality there may be an acceptable way forward; courses that match the man-power needs could attract a lower fee than those that don’t ,with the state providing the balancing funds to the colleges .
There are a number of follow on questions that arise; is the policy of proving third level studies to such a high percentage of school leavers the right one today? have the third level colleges got the right balance between education in general and education that is sufficiently aligned with the needs of the economy ? how should the courses that get this deontas be selected and will it work against the arts and humanities (and that is not an automatic outcome)? But the biggest question is whether something should be done……or should there be a fatalistic avoidance of action?

2 thoughts on “Manpower shortages in Ireland

  1. Seamus


    Which statement is this? Can you link to it?

    Anecdotally, knowing a few graduates struggling to get work in Ireland (engineering graduates for the most part), I think plenty of the positions that companies are having trouble filling, are not jobs suitable for graduates. That is, not entry level jobs, but rather jobs requiring a number of years of experience.

    any thoughts?

  2. frank gannon

    The original article is on the AmCham Ireland site at It was referred to in something I read-possibly on the RTE site. Your point may be valid (but unlikely to match the 2000 number) or it may be the opposite i.e. that the graduates are over qualified for the available jobs. Either way the core message of the blog stands;there is a manpower miss-match. It should be analysed and ACTIONS taken.

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