Skills shortage is a risk for South & East Cork Area Competitiveness.
The report clearly identified the need for an increase in skills profiles within companies in order to remain competitive and to create jobs in this Region in the future. The report also identified future skills required by sector in South and East Cork.
SECAD Chairperson, John Horgan, noted that the results of SECAD Survey of Employment Opportunities and Training Needs “identified that creating close and positive links between skills and training are now more important than ever if people are going to access the local employment opportunities. To remain competitive in the global market, skills profiles must continue to increase. Courses must lead to qualifications that are recognised and valued by employers”.
Minister for Research & Innovation, Mr. Sean Sherlock, T.D. praised SECAD for undertaking this survey, as part of their strategy to help those seeking employment in South and East Cork.
“I am very conscious and very encouraged by this survey which has the potential to communicate quality and timely information to a wide range of people, including employers, trainers, students and jobseekers. It will be an invaluable information source for students and jobseekers making choices of study and training during these difficult times,” he said.
“The Department of Education and Skills is committed to ensuring that individuals have the opportunity to acquire the relevant necessary education, training and skills needed for the jobs of tomorrow. I am pleased that the Department already provides a wide range of very relevant training and education programmes in the SECAD area,” added Minister Sherlock.
The report highlighted that the requirement for an increase in skills was particularly evident in certain sectors including pharmaceutical and biopharma, ICT and business and financial services.
- With 8 of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies located in the South & East Cork, there is an identified need for people with engineering, scientific, technician and purchasing skills, and an increased demand for those qualified to Masters and PhD level.
- While the ICT sector has been an area of sustained economic and employment growth, there has been a sustained shortage of software engineers, computer analysts and programmers. Recent shortages, highlighted by the SECAD survey, include computer systems managers, IT professionals with managerial skills, and R&D design professionals.
- In the area of business and financial services, there is an identified long-term need to develop people with high-level mathematical skills. These skills are critical in areas such as actuarial science and quantitative finance and other specialist and technical skills in areas such as regulation, compliance and risk management.
The SECAD report also noted that there are opportunities in the food, beverage, agri-food sector and farming in the area. However increasing skills in the agri-food sector will be vital and increased competitiveness is key to capture the potential for dairying in the Region:
- The food and beverage sector is performing well, and continues to provide sustainable employment. While traditionally the sector would have employed predominantly (62%) low or no level of formal 2nd level education, the report highlights a strong increase in the numbers employed in this sector with 3rd and 4th level qualifications.
- Farming and particularly dairying continues to be a significant contributor to the local economy. The future for dairy farming and the agri-sector can be seen positively given the current strong world demand for dairy products, and the possibility for expansion here exists. However, competitiveness for local farmers is an issue, and innovation and increased scale will be key to improve profit and further increase the competitiveness of milk production.
The survey research was also aimed at identifying economic sectors that could demonstrate employment growth in the current difficult economic climate. The SECAD report identified a number of growth sectors, including:
q Green Economy, including renewable energies, eco-Construction, wastewater treatment and Green ICT applications/software expertise;
q Biopharma, Pharmachemical, and Medical Devices Sectors;
q ICT sector;
q Food and Beverages; and
q Agriculture and Agri-Food Sectors.
The report also identifies that along with professional expertise, demand for generic skills such as problem solving, analytical skills, maths, computing, self-management, linguistic skills, team working, marketing and communications skills is increasing.
The report concludes by noting that the key challenge for the future is to support people into ‘pathway’ courses which will enable them to access employment opportunities or the ability to proceed to further education. Skill matching with growth areas is of vital importance to ensure competitiveness.
However, the challenges are considerable, and include the lack of awareness of employers at the present time of the availability of courses, and the fact that jobseekers may not be aware of the sectors with current or emerging opportunities. To address these issues, the report identifies that training and education providers in the area, and SECAD, should work together in partnership.
Also, a ‘South and East Cork Adult Education Network’ should be established to act as a focal point for coordinating adult and continuing education in the SECAD Area.