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What are the Main Skill Shortages in Ireland?

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Was one of your goals for this year to finally change jobs? Maybe it was to upskill or go back to education?

I recently attended the launch of the National Skills Bulletin for 2019 hosted by SOLAS where the focus was on the skills shortages faced by the Irish workforce and the driving forces behind them.

As Ireland continues to strengthen its workforce, Ireland’s unemployment rate is currently at the lowest it’s been in 13 years at just 4.8%. In 2019 the largest employers were the wholesale/ retail sector, closely followed by the health industry.

There was a decrease in employment in the agriculture industry and the ICT sector, however, all other sectors saw an increase with the strongest growth seen in the administrative support sector which grew by 13%. We’ve seen this within our own data too, where the perm admin space has been booming.

Whist there is a shortage of skills across most sectors in the Irish economy, there are a few niche areas that are struggling to find expert talent. The main skills shortages and opportunities for employment are in:

Tech & IT

Over the past 5 years, in Cpl, we have seen a strong growth in this sector driven by the demand for programmers and technicians. We are currently seeing a demand for software engineers and architects particularly with language skills which is creating a more flexible workforce, leading to companies focusing on adaptive skills that can be adopted into the market.

Science & Engineering

The Irish pharmaceutical, biotech and medical device industries are booming across the country and there is a strong demand for areas such as QC & QA, R&D, Regulatory Affairs and Manufacturing Technology Transfer. The Engineering industry is booming and there is a huge demand for Ireland’s top class talent with sector-specific experience.


Ireland is currently seeing a shortage across all financial-economic sectors. Demand is being driven due to replacement demand alone. Brexit has also been found to be the cause of many global financial institutions moving their EU headquarters to Dublin from the UK.

Financial institutions like these are also looking for candidates with transferrable skills to fill the gaps in the market. With the rise in technological advancements, it’s important those working in the area continue to upskill in order to maintain a competitive advantage.


The main growth in the healthcare sector is primarily due to factors related to Ireland’s growing population. There is a demand across the board, however, the main skills shortages are for those in highly skilled roles such as doctors, nurses and radiographers.


The government’s current Climate Action Plan combined with Project Ireland 2040, along with other factors, will continue to lead a high demand across the construction trade. Emigration has contributed to a skills shortage from top-level to junior graduate level. Upskilling will be required across the areas of technology and green technology with a focus on sustainability along with health and safety.


Some of the driving factors behind these shortages include;

  • Brexit – There are requirements across the board for the necessary skills to help make this historical transition run smoothly including that of business, financial and data analysts. Brexit has also impacted the tourism, transport industries.
  • Irelands changing demographic – there is a decline in the demand for childcare workers due to the fall in the number of children under 4. Conversely, the continued demand for care workers is being driven by Ireland’s ageing population.
  • Climate action – The Government’s Climate Action plan looks at ways to avoid a further crisis by calling for the retrofitting of homes, increasing the need for those with construction skills. There has been a further increase in climate change-based graduates in Universities across the country, displaying the increase in related skills.
  • The international environment Recent Government initiatives and issues, such as the housing crisis, have led to an increased need for those in the construction trade.
  • Automation, Robotics and AI Over the next 10 years, we will see the loss of 10% of jobs to automation. Almost all jobs will be impacted however, those who will see the biggest impact are those with low paying, entry-level roles, affecting those at college level, older people and people with disabilities.

So, what can we do about it?

While there were 128,000 people unemployed in Q4 of 2018 – there were 1.4m people classified as inactive workers. SOLAS suggests that in order to future proof the workforce, it is important to target these inactive workers with specific training in order to raise the workforce in the future.

Areas of example are to promote flexible options or increase the option of flexible working for those starting off in their retirement.

For other target areas, such as those in long term unemployment, it is important to focus on educating and upskilling into areas such as construction and other areas experiencing skills shortages and have development opportunities in automation in the future.

There are many ways to get back into education and its now easier than ever to upskill. Government initiatives such as Springboard and the ICT skills conversion programme are excellent places to begin your search whether currently in employment or not.

We also support some great initiatives for those in minority groups who are struggling to find work – such as Open Doors and the EPIC programme. Both well worth checking out.

I went back to education to get my degree as a mature student and it was one of the best decisions I could have made! I’ll be completing my degree this July and although it hasn’t always been easy, the decision helped me transition into a completely new career with much more confidence in my abilities.

If you have any of the skills mentioned above and are looking for a change, you are in high demand! Get in touch with one of our teams to find your perfect role.