Careers rarely develop the way we plan them. Our career path often takes many twists and turns, with particular events, choices and people influencing our direction.

We asked Brian Macken from Smart Futures to give some advice for people considering this job:

Brian Macken

Science Communicator

Smart Futures

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Brian Macken

I would strongly advise you to do the Masters in Science Communication in DCU. It really gives you a feel for the different kinds of media and ways of explaining things. And it's a good place to make contacts, which is also useful.

I would also recommend that you read science books. Not textbooks, good popular science books are just as useful for this kind of work, as it's already been broken down into simpler language for you. And only read the ones that you're interested in - it shouldn't be a chore to read them.

But I would recommend reading outside your subject area, so if you're into physics, then read some books on biology and vice versa (everyone should read Stephen J. Gould).  However, the more knowledge you have, the more questions you'll be able to answer.

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Labour Market Trends

The Labour Market is a term used to describe the relationship between the workplace (available employment) and the workforce (people, aged 16 and over, who are working or are available to work). In an ideal world, available employment will match the available workforce. This rarely happens however, and most often there are more workers than available employment. Parents often express concern that their children should choose an occupation (or career area) that will have good employment prospects.

There are several problems with this apporach, however, and some compromise and risk-taking is often necessary to get the balance right between having 'guaranteed' employment and a fulfilling career. There are two extremes to be considered, and each parent and child will have to make their own mind up based on their own circumstances.

1. Make the most accurate predictions based on the best research available, and choose a career path in an area predicted to have good opportunities.

or

2. Follow your heart and hope that you will find suitable employment when you have achieved the relevant qualifications.

In either case, it would seem that being aware of the changing trends in the Labour Market can only help, even if not used as a consideration at this stage. In Ireland, annual research completed by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs makes predictions based on the employment trends in various career sectors, and makes predictions on where future opportunities may lay. This information is summarised in our Labour Market Section and presented on each sector and occupation pages where information is available.

Labour Market Information

Similar research by the international Manpower Group monitors trends worldwide, and with so many of our young having found successful employment abroad, we should probabily consider the broader 'international' world of work for additional opportunities.

Employment Outlook Surveys (Manpower) 

As predictions on labour market trends are often proved innaccurate over the long term, the information provided can only really be taken as a rough guide, and not a certaintity. We recommend that this information is used cautiously, and that wherever possible, consider the international market as an alternative source of satisfying career opportunities. Better a happy Actor in London than a frustrated Accountant at home! 

Action Point: If your child has selected a career sector or occupation, read through any Labour Market information available from the two links above. Is the sector/occupation growing or contracting in Ireland or abroad? Are there opportunities in related areas/occupations? If opportunities are available abroad, have you explored studying and availability of work permits. Exploring these issues now may help you prepare effectively for the next few years.


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