Report: Ireland still has plenty of graduate jobs despite Covid

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A new report from the Association of Higher Education Careers Services (AHECS) has shown that graduates in Ireland are still in high demand despite the economic impacts of Covid-19.

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AHECS asked local, national and international companies across manufacturing, communications, construction, education, finance and STEM that typically hire graduates if their plans had changed due to the pandemic.

In total, 190 employers took part in the survey. While one-third said they don’t yet know how their graduate recruitment plans will change for 2020, 46pc said they intend to “maintain or even increase” their recruitment targets. At 23pc, almost one-quarter will decrease or cancel their graduate recruitment this year.

Where are graduate jobs?

According to AHECS, the highest number of graduate vacancies are in the east (43pc). Border regions have the second-largest amount at 23pc and the south-west the third largest at 19pc.

Engineering graduates are most in demand, as 42pc of employers said they’re hiring in this sector. A further 33pc said they’re looking for business graduates, 30pc for informatics and electronics graduates and 17pc for graduates from any discipline.

AHECS also said that almost half (46pc) of the employers continuing to hire graduates will do so remotely. In terms of salary, undergraduates can expect to earn €28,045 on average. The average salaries for master’s and PhD graduates are €31,254 and €43,958, respectively.

How graduates can prepare

The AHECS survey asked people working at higher-education institutions to share their advice for graduates entering the market.

Dr David Foster, for example, is the director of career development and skills at UCD. He said the biggest challenge for graduates at the moment is to have a “first-class CV and cover letter” as well as “examples of when they have demonstrated adapting to change and being resilient”.

“As employers adapt to a volatile economic situation, they are looking for talented students with critical thinking and creativity, employability skills and competencies to achieve personal success and enable businesses to thrive,” Foster explained.

At 56pc, more than half of the companies that took part in the survey said they would primarily use competency-based interviews in their hiring process.

Great insights from Claire Murphy and Marie Laffey from @NUIGCareers on preparing for an interview in the Covid era !

— AHECS (@AHECSHEcareers) September 21, 2020

Head of careers at Waterford Institute of Technology, Angela Collins, added that students should talk to university’s careers service.

“As a generation of students and graduates who have had to adapt to new ways of learning and assessment during their studies, they have developed a wealth of technical and soft skills that will be valuable to the workforce of the future,” Collins said.

Gavin Connell, co-chair at AHECS and head of careers at the University of Limerick, added: “If you have decided on your preferred career options, you need to start planning and implementing a course of action to convert your choice into reality. Make a list of all the things you need to do and allocate each a time frame.”

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