What Skills are Employers Going to Need?

Category: Employment Trends

Our research at Cordant People IE, indicates that based on qualifications data contained in the Working Futures analysis, it has been calculated that to fill both new and replacement jobs (by 2017) over half (56%) will require people to hold graduate level qualifications, this presents a substantial increase in the greater demand for a higher level skilled worker and the requirement for people to accept jobs which call for no qualifications whatsoever will decrease by 12%.

Typically, lower skilled jobs have provided labour market entry points for people moving out of employment, and the deterioration in accessibility highlights the importance for everyone to possess and maintain a minimum platform of relevant skills.

This, therefore, presents a challenge for the education system as it is necessary for all young people to enter the labour market with sufficient skills in literacy and numeracy.

Standard of Literacy and Numeracy
Although there has been some improvement in the standard of literacy and numeracy results of people aged 16, far too many young people cannot reach the required grade.  For example, last year, 58% of entrants achieved a grade A, B or C in mathematics and 65% in English.  However, over 300,000 young people (throughout the UK) could not achieve a minimum grade ‘C’ in mathematics and 250,000 fell below this in English.

Furthermore over 100,000 young people received a grade ‘F’ or below in mathematics and English, with a decrease in population and a shortage of skilled workers young people need to value education and receive appropriate tutoring in order to take an active place in the employment market.

Pace of Technology
The pace of technological and organizational development in the workplace is persistent, and people out of work become less skilled with the employed population, as a recruitment agency we appreciate how important it is for everyone to have a job and play their role in society.  

Significance of Innovation
Northern Ireland, aim that by 2025, to be internationally recognised as an innovation hub and will be one of the UK’s leading high-growth, knowledge based regions which fully embraces creativity and innovation.

“Imagination is more important than knowledge” Albert Einstein.

It is not just formal qualifications which are important for innovation, but also skills such as entrepreneurship, risk and creativity, many productive engineers were born in Northern Ireland, including:

Nickel-zinc batteries – James J. Drumm (1897-1974) – Co Down
The aircraft ejection seat – James Martin (1893-1981) – Co Down
Tractors – Henry Ferguson (1884–1960) – Co Down
The mobile defibrillator – Frank Pantridge (1916-2004)– Co Down
Rubber tyres – John Boyd Dunlop (1840-1921) –Belfast.

The skills people possess influence employment in two ways:

  • Skills are a driver of business development and progressing firms create new jobs – companies who train and improve their staff maintain productivity but they also need access to a pool of workers who are adequately equipped with the right mix of productive skills – because it is when firms encounter skill shortages that business growth will be deterred.
  • Potential mismatches between skills and job vacancies – do people possess the necessary skills to cover the needs of businesses that employers are seeking in certain sectors or regions?

Where are the jobs of the future?  The Northern Ireland labour market is expected to see a continued move towards higher level occupations and by 2017, it is predicted that almost half (47%) of jobs will be for managerial or professional roles.  While the proportion of elementary roles will decrease, they will still represent 10% of jobs in the economy.  Furthermore, there will be a steady growth in personal service occupations, for example more people are needed to fill health and social care roles to take care of an ageing population.

There is currently an analysis that because of increasing development in technology the demand for the skilled worker will increase whilst at the same time makes redundant a number of unskilled jobs.  Nevertheless, there is an existing dispute on whether Northern Ireland and the UK generally is heading for an ‘hourglass’ economy.

This in effect means that routine tasks which can be substituted by technology are neither the managerial roles at the top, nor the low-skilled roles at the bottom, such as stacking shelves in shops or cleaning, and it is the roles in the middle which are vulnerable.

These include jobs such as secretaries, clerical and administrative jobs – it is this kind of employment which will gradually become much scarcer.  Therefore, there is the threat of basic level vacancies being progressively filled by those with intermediate level skills, and this will accordingly minimize the opportunities for those people who have basic skills.