Tech-literate students most in-demand in next half-decade

The pandemic has accelerated the demand for tech-savvy students in the language, business, health, science and engineering sectors.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) outlined how young people with competent technology skills in these areas will likely be most in-demand, according to the organisation’s national skills bulletin, which predicts future trends in the Irish labour market.

“An increased demand for digital skills, particularly accelerated as a result of Covid-19, is likely across all sectors,” said Shauna Dunlop, an EGFSN board member. “Employment in the ICT sector continued to grow throughout the restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19 and is likely to continue well into the future. And as the transport sector evolves, demand for those with logistics skills is expected to continue to grow.”

The pandemic has played two crucial roles in paving the way for labour demand over the next few years, Dunlop said. For select industries, like transport and logistics, the pandemic has led to a shortage of workers, which has increased demand for new people entering the sector. 

For other sectors, mainly in the STEM field, the work from home migration has sent the message to companies that their employees need to be technically agile and ultimately productive while working from home. 

There are also trends in the job market that are happening regardless of the pandemic, Dunlop said. Mainly, employers are beginning to put far greater weight on soft skills in the hiring process.

Colleges are beginning to adapt to these trends too. 

NUIG has launched a new programme called “Designing Futures”, which is focused on “breaking down the traditional academic barriers to encourage students to work across disciplines and develop new ideas and solutions to the type of challenges and problems they might encounter in the real world,” according to the university. 

“A further, key inspirational aspect of Designing Futures is that it does not solely focus on enhancing students’ employability for when they graduate,” said Tony Hall, senior lecturer in educational technology and director of educational design research for Designing Futures at NUIG

“The student’s rounded/holistic development is critical; consequently, through Designing Futures, students will avail of personal skills training, and learning and development in tools that will be of use to them throughout their lives, helping them to personally discern and decide the best career and life choices as they move through life.”

By Devin Sean Martin