Creative approach for post-pandemic employment

Where are the jobs? Emerging opportunities calls for new approach from graduates and employers

Sinéad Brady: ‘There will be new and emerging industries, and that will change what jobs are done.’ Photograph: Sonja Smith

Sinéad Brady: ‘There will be new and emerging industries, and that will change what jobs are done.’ Photograph: Sonja Smith


As we come out of the pandemic, where will demand be and should that influence the career path of a recent graduate?

Sinéad Brady, a career psychologist who focuses on helping companies and individuals to make positive choices for the workplace, says that the pandemic has changed the answers to these questions.

“It has shaken how we work and where we work,” she says. “There will be new and emerging industries, and that will change what jobs are done.”

The Covid-19 crisis locked most of the world down and made it harder for consumers with money to spend, while others saved more because of the uncertainty. The Central Bank of Ireland estimates that as society and business reopens, consumers may have €5 billion to spend, whether on holidays, nights out, home improvements or something else entirely. It also notes that there is uncertainty around how fast the economy will improve given that many people have lost jobs and income during the pandemic.

That said, there are a number of areas where graduates can expect to see growth over the coming years, Brady says, highlighting six in particular:

Health and care: Caring professions including doctors, nurses and allied health professionals are more in-demand as the global pandemic shifts the priorities of nation states towards health and care. And with nine of the world’s top 10 largest pharmaceutical firms based in Ireland there will likely be growth in the sector. Although proposed global tax changes could impact on whether some larger companies remain in Ireland, the pharma sector has such deep roots and talent pipelines in the country that they’re unlikely to up sticks anytime soon.

ICT and data: The recent cyberattack on the Health Service Executive once again highlighted the need for information and computer technology, cybersecurity, cyberpsychology and data science. With high-street shopping in decline and companies moving online, there will be a need for digital marketers, and companies and organisations will be keen to ensure that their message reaches the crucial younger demographics. Allied to the growth of marketing, companies will try to think strategically and so will want to measure the success of their programmes using a combination of data analytics and digital expertise.

Education: We tend to think of this as primary, secondary and third-level teaching, but many of the global multinationals and European hubs based in Ireland have large learning and development departments where they work on continuous professional development, ICT and digital skills.

HR and psychology: Companies need to understand how to keep, retain and develop staff within organisations so they can be successful in work and life. As the world of work shifts and moves, this is about businesses and individual thriving together.

Languages: With so many international companies based here, there’s a strong demand for people with a second language besides English across a whole range of industries. French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Arabic, Chinese and Japanese speakers are particularly needed.

Climate change: The need to build new public transport initiatives, introduce more sustainable agricultural practices, develop better sustainable and renewable fuel sources, ventilate and insulate new buildings and work on policy and politics around climate change, opens up opportunities across a range of companies but particularly in engineering, transport, construction and agriculture.

“But just because there is a job in a certain area, or there’s a buzz around a certain industry doesn’t mean you should do it,” Brady cautions. “It may not make you happy.”

Some other areas are less certain, including the area most heavily impacted by the pandemic: tourism and hospitality. It’s uncertain when international travel restrictions will be fully lifted, with many doctors and public health experts suggesting it may not be safe to resume global travel until a global critical mass of people are vaccinated, and this could take us into the year 2023.

“Savvy graduates and jobseekers should be creative,” Brady advises. “Large or small, companies that have taken creative approaches are better positioned to survive.”

For instance, some tourism and hospitality businesses have pivoted online, offering home meal kits or online cookery courses. Bakealicious, a Navan-based bakery, began to deliver food and drink to separate addresses so that friends could share a virtual afternoon tea.

“What they’re doing is applying their skills in different ways,” says Brady. “For new grads, one of the biggest selling points is that they have these digital skills and are well positioned to take advantage of virtual environments, and that includes taking advantage of the virtual company days or virtual graduate fairs taking place.

“As the first cohort of students to ever learn entirely online, graduates should consider what they learned through the challenges they faced and how they can apply what they learned to the workplace. It’s not unusual to see engineers working in the hotel trade, or philosophy graduates working in innovation centres or advertising and branding firms. Employers are looking beyond the degree and job titles and seeing how people’s skills fit.”