For some just out of college, the jobs front looks positive

Is the narrative about continuous youth emigration finally changing? The demand for skilled graduates is up this year

Graduating students may be looking to move towards work or further study

Graduating students may be looking to move towards work or further study


Here’s some good news. Careers experts say the graduate jobs market is stronger than it has been for almost a decade and, despite high youth unemployment, some of those who are fresh out of college may have their pick of jobs.

“Yes, there is youth unemployment, but not among graduates,” says Mark Mitchell, director of Gradireland. “The graduate jobs market is up 18 per cent this year. There’s growth at corporate level and increased optimism about the future. Indeed, 50 per cent of over 7,000 graduate employers we surveyed said they had challenges filling vacancies. Employers are competing to get the best graduate talent.”

So, who’s hiring? Contrary to expectations, there are vacancies across all sectors. The Gradireland careers fair, which takes place in the RDS in Dublin on October 7th, will have employers from every sector looking to hire every kind of graduate. The fair is for graduates from all disciplines. Accounting firms, for instance, don’t just hire accountants; they will also be looking for engineering, marketing and communication graduates. Or a biotechnology firm may be looking for graduates to get involved in event management. There are even jobs for musicians.

Sectors that were struggling a few years ago, including property and construction, are hiring. Graduates with communications and social media skills, from disciplines such as arts and journalism, are eagerly sought by a range of firms which need to expand their social media and online presence.

Jane Lorigan, managing director of, echoes Mitchell’s encouraging words. “This is the strongest that the jobs market has been since 2007. Most of this growth is in Dublin and large urban areas including Cork and Galway, and it’s in a diverse range of areas including technology, law, finance and languages.”

College careers advisers have noticed, too. “Employers are very interested in our graduates at the moment,” says Yvonne McLoughlin, head of Dublin City University’s careers service. “They are contacting us from finance, business, law, engineering, pharmaceuticals and IT. Languages are also in high demand.”


Soft skills

Don’t just focus on a career area, McLoughlin advises, urging graduates to consider what skills they have and how they can put these to use.


“Softer skills such as critical thinking, commercial awareness and leadership potential are also important. We tell students, during their time at university, to build up work experience and employment skills and get involved in extracurricular activities. Volunteering and going abroad are other ways of developing these skills, and employers value them.”

Deirdre Parker, careers adviser in the Student Development and Employability Services at University College Cork, says the graduate job market is continuing to improve. This year, 1,800 graduate vacancies were advertised through the UCC service – 200 more than last year.

“The continued demand for graduates echoes the findings of recent public and private labour market reviews,” Parker says. “As the demand for graduates increases, employers are facing challenges in filling their graduate recruitment quotas for 2015.”

Lorigan suggests graduates give some thought to who they might want to work for: Look up information online, follow the company on social media and get alerts when a job is available. And graduates should bear in mind they will be continually learning and updating their skills throughout their career. Indeed, they are likely to move careers a number of times.

Inside Buzz is a useful service from Gradireland, whereby graduate employees in various firms provide information, advice and reviews on what particular companies are like to work for. The service could help new graduates find the right fit.

The National Skills Bulletin, published last May, reported an increase in vacancies for professional roles in IT, engineering, biotechnology, pharmaceuticals, health, business and financial services.

More good news. “Regulatory changes in financial services have led to increased graduate opportunities in risk and compliance, and an evolving international tax environment maintains a strong demand for graduate tax roles in the professional services sector,” says Parker.

“Two-thirds of the roles that are difficult to fill were professional roles, and two-thirds of these, in turn, are IT roles such as software programmers and developers, IT business analysts, cloud computing specialists, web designers and network engineers.

“Other highly sought-after professionals include production and process engineers, chemical engineers and scientists, business and finance professionals and medical and health professionals including doctors, nurses and radiographers.”


Language graduates

Parker says some graduate roles require a combination of two distinct but complementary areas of expertise, such as engineering and science, maths and IT and languages and finance.


“Many graduates choose postgraduate conversion courses that provide them with skills and knowledge in a new discipline to enhance their existing qualifications, skills and job prospects.”

Recruiters are also desperate for language graduates, with German the most frequently mentioned on Irish job sites, followed by French, Spanish and Dutch.

“This year, we surveyed employers and found that, for the first time, having a fluency in a foreign language was the most prized attribute a graduate could have,” says Mark Mitchell.

This was closely followed by leadership skills. “Employers, many of whom have their European headquarters in Ireland, value broad skills. Irish graduates are good communicators; if they have a foreign language allied with good academic skills, they could be a future leader. The biggest decision this year’s graduates may be making is who they want to work for.”

For more information on the careers fair, see

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