Are we getting back to work?
Unemployment is at its lowest for three years. Does this signal a resurgence in the job market or is it just that people are emigrating or joining one of the Government’s job schemes?
After an unsuccessful spell job-hunting early in the year, followed by a stint of freelance work to develop his portfolio, Silverlock returned to the job market this autumn to find improved prospects.
“It was certainly different from what I had seen at the start of the year,” he says. “After getting a sense of the opportunities out there and the kind of skills companies were looking for, I realised I had to study a few new things to get the sort of job I wanted. I was confident, but I had no idea that towards the end of the year there would be as many opportunities as there were.”
Contacting recruitment agencies produced four or five opportunities a day within his skill range, he says, eventually leading him to his new job, at Firstcom, a digital-communications agency in Sandyford Industrial Estate, in south Dublin, where business is flourishing.
“For my industry it’s easier now than it was maybe two years ago. Development companies were trying to get high-skilled workers for roles that were beneath them. It was almost like they were taking advantage of the job market, looking for people who would have held senior positions in better times but, because of the market, were applying for junior roles. Now there seems to be a minimum of two jobs coming through a day, and that’s just within my skill set.”
Fionn O’Brien, a 31-year-old engineer from Portmarnock, in north Co Dublin, has been unable to find a full-time position in his field since he graduated from Dublin Institute of Technology, in 2007.
“From my class in DIT, I’d say nearly all have emigrated,” he says. “The ones who are still here have moved away from engineering into financial and tech-based areas.”
O’Brien has since completed a master’s degree in structural engineering and mechanics, as well as a part-time research project at Trinity College Dublin. But he has spent much of the past two years seeking work both in Ireland and abroad.
“This time last year I think there may have been one suitable engineering role I could apply for every three months, whereas now there might be five or six. That might not sound great, but I can see there is a slight improvement.
“I’ve been applying around the UK and Germany, getting more phone calls in the last few months, but some say you need to be [living] there first.”
O’Brien’s last interview was in May, and, given the paucity of career opportunities, he has considered the JobBridge scheme (though has found nothing worthwhile) and has begun to apply for data-analysis roles as well as various entry-level positions.
“People coming out of statistics or dedicated maths courses are going for these data-analysis jobs, so I think [employers] have the pick of the bunch, and I’m not really hearing anything back,” he says.
“Things are looking a little bit better in Ireland in general, but I think something more needs to be done. It’s hard to know what to do.”