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How the Irish Workforce will look in 2012

How the Irish Workforce will look in 2012 According to Latest FAS/ESRI Forecasts

Embargo: 12 noon Thursday 2 August 2007

Employment growth over the medium-term will be greatest in occupations that require third-level qualifications and high skill levels, with women accounting for an increasing proportion of skilled workers, according to forecasts published by FAS and the ESRI today (Thursday 2nd August).

These are the main conclusions arising from detailed forecasts of the structure of the Irish labour market in the year 2012, conducted by economists at the ESRI. The forecasts are based on employment trends across 20 sectors of the Irish economy and changes in 43 occupations across the workforce.

The results reveal a strong pattern across the labour market. Professional, associate professional and managerial occupations are expected to grow by more than 20% relative to 2005 figures. Outside these high-skill occupations, some personal services occupations, including caring occupations such as childcare, are likely to experience similar expansion.

The highest growth is expected among business, financial and legal professionals, whose numbers are predicted to rise by nearly 50%. Other occupations forecast to expand strongly are managers and highly qualified workers in the fields of health, education and science.

In less skilled occupations, much more moderate growth is predicted than has been seen in recent times. Employment levels in agricultural occupations are anticipated to fall significantly, with a possible decline in unskilled manual workers also.

"The most striking aspect of our findings is what we call the 'skills gradient'" said ESRI economist Dr. Pete Lunn. "Two factors seem to be driving it. The highest employment growth is occurring in service industries, which have a greater proportion of skilled workers. Meanwhile, within the fastest growing sectors we’re seeing increased professionalisation, with more jobs requiring high-level qualifications."

The economists also looked at these labour market trends by gender. Women are increasing their share strongly in professional, associate professional and management occupations. By 2012, women are forecast to form the majority of business, financial and legal professionals, and the proportion of managers who are women will almost reach the proportion of women in the workforce as a whole.

The authors point out that, as with all economic forecasts, their employment predictions are subject to uncertainty. International economic imbalances, particularly the US current account deficit, could reduce employment growth generally. However, the report predicts that even under a pessimistic scenario, a similar skills gradient is likely to occur, though employment in the construction industry could come under particular pressure.

Roger Fox, the Director of Planning and Research in FAS, noted that the forecasts predict a strong demand for Science and Engineering professionals and technicians in the future. Computing/software employment is also expected to expand significantly over the period. These forecasts bear out the need for a continued emphasis on science and technology within the Irish education and training systems.

For further information contact:

Dr. Pete Lunn, Economist, ESRI, 01 863 2013 (w) or 087 123 3197 (m)

Mr. Roger Fox, Director of Planning and Research, FAS, 01 607 0527 (w)


Notes for Editors:

(1) Occupational Employment Forecasts 2012 by Dr. Pete Lunn, Ms. Nicola Doyle and Prof. Gerard Hughes is a joint FAS/ESRI publication. It is the twelfth report in the FAS/ESRI Manpower forecasting series, which began in 1991. It is the sixth such report to contain full forecasts for the sectoral and occupational structure of the Irish labour market over the medium term.

(2) Electronic copies of graphs and tables outlining the anticipated changes in employment by occupation and gender between 2005 and 2012 are obtainable from the authors on request.

(3) The format at the launch of the 12th FAS/ESRI Manpower Forecast will allow time for questions to be put to the authors.