Jobs, jobs, and more jobs


PEPSI COLA International Cork was making a play for the testosterone brigade at last week's AIESEC Careers Fair in Dublin. As the company's new promotional video commenced, a crowd of mainly male punters gathered like bees to honey, trying to pretend that they weren't interested in Claudia Shiffer disrobing to take a shower.

The focus of the video, fact finders, is that a young chap with raging hormones wishes to become Claudia Shiffer's bar of soap in the shower, as you do, and is duly transformed. Unfortunately, as shower time approaches, La Shiffer's place is taken by a fat and, frankly, aggressively unattractive lady of mature years. Cue howls of unhappiness as fragments of our man are washed down the plughole as he is rubbed over flabby areas of the female anatomy which he might have preferred to have left unexplored.

Thankfully, employment prospects for 1996/97 graduates are somewhat better than the chance of being transformed into a bar of soap and rubbed over an attractive member of the opposite, or even the same, sex.

According to the Eeonomie and Social Research Institute, job prospects for graduates are extremely bright as Ireland's strong economic growth predicted to last until the end of the decade.

Speaking at the recent Hewlett Packard Award ceremony, Terry Baker, the ESRI's senior research officer; said that Ireland's growth had been exceptionally rapid by international and historic standards, with real GNP likely to continue to grow at an average of 5 per cent until the year 2000.

Most job opportunities for graduates will continue to be in the private sector, as budget constraints will limit traditional opportunities in the private and academic sectors: in the academic sphere, as in the larger private sector, contract work has largely replaced security of tenure. But overall, graduate unemployment is at its lowest since 1989.

Unemployment among arts graduates was running at around nine per cent last year, among science graduates it was 10 per cent, and business students were experiencing five per cent unemployment.

The AIESEC Careers Fair, now in its 13th year in Ireland, was a good indicator of where recruitment stands for the coming year, with around 30 firms in attendance and number of companies being turned away because of space constraints.

"The market is absolutely booming," says the fair's organiser, Catherine Smith. "Sales and marketing is strong, as is the retail market - we have Marks and Spencer, Dunnes Stores and Power Supermarkets here. A lot of the investment banks, like McKinsey, Cargill and Sehroeder's, also seem to be investing in Irish students."

British Telecom has been coming to Ireland to recruit for a number of years and this year expects to recruit 6-700 graduates from the UK and Ireland.

"I would say the Irish system is a good broad education system," says Ian Jackson, graduate recruitment manager with BT. "I find generally, on the degree side, the students are well prepared but also have a lot of general life experience, often through vacation work and, particularly, vacation work abroad because there's that tradition here of travelling abroad to work during the summer.

Like many of the recruiters at the fair, Jackson emphasises the importance of extra curricular activities outside the confines of academic work and study.

"Students often undersell themselves. They don't realise they have these skills," he says. "For most of our non technical jobs, it's you that's going to get the job, not your degree. A Very good zoologist might get into finance, while a finance graduate with poor personal skills will not."

The Minister for Enterprise and Employment, Richard Bruton, believes that there has never been a better time to be a graduate.

"All the figures indicate that graduate employment is higher now than it has ever been," he says. "One of the keys, particularly in the high tech area, is the quality of our graduates. Overseas companies are falling over one another to avail of our graduates and Irish companies should also avail of them for their own businesses.".

He feels Irish companies have a more pro active role to play in the education process. "I feel they have to get more involved in shaping the education system, and links between business and colleges are very important," he says.

"We have very creative people coming out of the colleges and businesses must use that creativity effectively."