If there is one thing almost everyone is agreed on at present it’s that the Covid-19 downturn is very different to the last one. While certain sectors have been devastated by lockdowns and other restrictions imposed to contain the spread of coronavirus, many others have performed surprisingly well and are continuing to hire.
Life sciences, particularly pharmaceuticals, is one of those very strong sectors.
"Pharmaceutical companies in Ireland have played their hand in the fight against Covid-19 by taking on added products to allow their colleagues on the continent to manufacture vaccines, which will have a positive impact in the new year," says Samuel Hendry, operations director with recruitment firm Morgan McKinley.
“We also expect some medical device companies to play a part in providing rapid testing kits to the European market pending CE approval.”
That should translate directly into job opportunities.
“We should see a ramp-up of roles particularly across quality, process, and automation engineering,” says Hendry. “In addition, supply chain has been in focus throughout 2021 due the challenges brought about by both Brexit and Covid. This has led to a focus on increased engagement with domestic and European suppliers, and that should lead to a number of opportunities in 2021.”
The drinks industry is another which continues to recruit. Applications for the Jameson International Graduate Programme are open at the moment. The programme offers graduates the opportunity to kickstart their marketing careers on a global stage.
The programme offers an initial 12-month contract with a competitive benefits package, the opportunity to gain international experience, and excellent opportunities for career progression. Participants go abroad to build brand awareness for Jameson with consumers, bartenders and influencers, and gain experience in fields such as marketing, sales, digital, event management and content creation. For many it is the first step on a lifelong career with Irish Distillers.
“The Jameson International Graduate Programme accepts applicants from all disciplines, so a marketing or business background is not essential,” says programme head Sinead D’Arcy.
“Today brand ambassadors come from a variety of backgrounds – from law, arts and psychology, to business and marketing. The programme’s four-week induction programme covers all bases, ensuring that graduates are equipped with the knowledge, skills and tools they need to hit the ground running post-induction.”
Interestingly the tourism and hospitality sector also offers quite bright recruitment prospects in the year ahead.
“I have no doubt that when the vaccines are rolled out in the new year there will be a strong recovery in the industry,” says Micheline Corr, director of special hospitality recruitment company The Firm.
“The industry recovered very quickly from the last recession, and it will be even faster on this occasion. The hospitality sector has shown itself to be very resilient over the years, and all those restaurants and other outlets that managed to continue trading will flourish when the economy reopens fully.”
There will also be a need to replace the people who have left the industry.
“A lot of people have returned to their home countries and may not return,” says Corr. “Also, hospitality and events managers have very transferable skills and are also in strong demand by companies in other sectors. There will be jobs in specialist venues around the country as conference and other events business returns. I am expecting demand to start picking up from March onwards. There will be a lot of activity across the board.”
One profession which has long been regarded as recession-proof is accountancy. Even in the worst of circumstances, accountants will still be needed to turn off the lights.
“The accountancy sector is undergoing a critical skills shortage and 12 years on from the start of the 2008 recession the accountancy workforce has still not bounced back,” says John Devaney, president of professional accountancy body CPA Ireland. “Accountancy remains on the critical skills list and employers continue to struggle to source qualified accountants.”
He points to a survey carried out at the beginning of 2020 by Case Wise which shows that 62 per cent of employers reported a “significant skills gap” within the accountancy sector, up from 51 per cent in 2016.
“There are many exciting career opportunities that exist for any accounting graduates,” says Devaney. “These exist across a diverse range of sectors from practice, audit and finance roles to jobs in fintech and in cutting edge IT, AI, engineering and science.
“Over the past number of years there has been a 100 per cent employment rate with students qualifying with CPA Ireland. Many of these will one day go on to lead their own businesses, practices and become senior figures in some of the world’s most exciting companies.”
He advises graduates to shake off the perception of accountancy as an office job with a calculator and ledger. “In some circles accountants are deemed as the money-counters. Nothing could be further from the truth. Accountants are at the forefront of business, be it advising clients or working within large business or industry.”
Financial services is another growth sector, according to Hendry.
“With the impact of Brexit we have seen and will continue to see growth in fund management, insurance and institutional banking. Risk and compliance have been and will continue to be crucial in post-Brexit regulatory readiness.
“We also anticipate ESG (environment, social and governance) and front office growth in fund management and investment banking because of the impact of Brexit. In addition to these growth areas, the fund administration market in Ireland has been resilient and will continue to grow in 2021.”
The other industry Hendry points to is technology.
“Ireland’s technology market is already sophisticated and established, but with continued growth from multinationals and innovative start-ups, this will only move forward in 2021. Cyber security also remains a key area of focus across a number of our clients.”