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 Eileen Faherty from Construction Industry Federation to give some advice for people considering this job:

Eileen Faherty

Electrician / Quantity Surveyor

Construction Industry Federation

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Eileen Faherty
My advice would be that if you are not afraid of hard work that construction can be a very rewarding industry. It is a constantly changing industry which is interesting to work in.

To be a QS the main values would be to be interested in dealing with financial data and be happy to work as part of a team. Having an interest in construction generally outside of the commercials will also help as it keeps you interested in the projects you are working on apart from what they cost.

Not surprisingly, some aspect of the natural sciences will run through the Naturalists interests - from ecological awareness to nutrition and health. People with an interest in horticulture, land usage and farming (including fish) are Naturalists.

Some Naturalists focus on animals rather than plants, and may enjoy working with, training, caring for, or simply herding them. Other Naturalists will prefer working with the end result of nature's produce - the food produced from plants and animals. Naturalists like solving problems with solutions that show some sensitivity to the environmental impact of what they do. They like to see practical results, and prefer action to talking and discussing.
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Labour Market Sector Profiles

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Sales and Customer Service Occupations

Key points for selected Sales and Customer Service Occupations

  • In 2015, there were approximately 223,000 persons employed in sales and customer service occupations, representing 11.4% of Ireland’s workforce.
  • There were 125,000 persons employed as sales assistants ─ the largest workforce nationally.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, overall employment in the selected occupations increased very modestly (by 0.9% on average annually ─ almost identical to the national average rate).
  • Over the five year period, there were approximately a net 10,500 additional jobs created.
  • In 2015, while employment levels for most occupations were similar to those observed in 2010, the most pronounced increases were observed for customer service occupations (6,500) and sales accounts & business development managers (4,000).
  • The largest decreases were for business sales executive, and sales related occupations (approximately 1,500 each).
  • Between 2014 and 2015, overall employment expanded by 2.3% (similar to the national average, with a net 5,000 additional jobs created).
  • The largest absolute increases were observed for sales assistants (3,000) and sales accounts & business development managers (2,000).
  • The largest decrease was observed for business sales executives (2,500).
  • Most persons employed in each occupation were aged 25-54; the age profile of employed sales assistants was the youngest amongst the selected occupations, with one quarter aged 15-24.
  • Most persons employed in sales and customer services occupations had a higher share with third level qualifications than the national average, with sales assistants the main exception to this with only a 22% share with third level qualifications.
  • Almost 70% of persons employed as sales assistants were female, the highest share among the selected occupations and above the national average share; the share was also relatively high for marketing associate professionals, and customer service occupations (with two fifths employed in both groups female).
  • Over a half (55%) of all employed sales assistants worked part-time ─ one of the highest shares among all occupations in the national workforce.
  • Two fifths of employed sales supervisors were non-Irish nationals (over double the national average).
  • The corresponding share was almost one fifth for customer service occupations.

Shortage Indicators

With over 223,000 persons employed, a high volume of exits to inactivity and frequent changes of employer for those in sales-related occupations, it is not surprising that sales-related occupations accounted for 14% of all new hires in 2015. This is reflected in the 7,500 vacancies for sales roles at associate professional level and 9,200 vacancies for sales assistants and customer care roles advertised in May 2016 through the PES and portals alone.

While most of these vacancies were likely due to replacement and turnover demand, expansion demand across all sales roles is expected to continue to increase as the economy, along with both global and domestic sales, recovers.

Sales assistants

Sales assistants account for the bulk of those employed in sales-related occupations; employment of many sales assistants is casual in nature.

54% of employment is part-time, over a quarter are aged less than 25, and there is a large volume of transitions in all directions (between employment, unemployment, economic inactivity (mostly study), as well as between and within occupations) and a simultaneous presence of a large number of job seekers and vacancies.

While the transitory nature of employment for sales assistants may not represent an issue for employers, sourcing for management roles in retail may be a greater challenge; however, the availability of business graduates is likely to help in meeting employer requirements in this regard.

Associate professional sales and customer service roles

While those employed as sales assistants work primarily in the wholesale and retail sector, business sales executives and those in customer service occupations are employed across a range of sectors including finance, IT and industry, in addition to wholesale and retail.

Although there are no shortages of sales assistants, shortages of the following sales and customer care skills continue to persist:

  • technical and product/service knowledge (e.g. pharmaceutical, medical devices, Software B2B, SaaS products, etc.)
  • communication skills, cultural awareness and foreign languages (especially German, French and Nordic).

Marketing experts

Despite the third level graduate output of 1,600 from sales and marketing courses at levels 6 and above (HEA and non-HEA sectors), a shortage of marketing experts required to lead product strategy development and management continues to exist.

Associate professional sales, customer service and marketing skills are critical in Ireland’s efforts to increase the global market share for its its exports.

Almost all job announcements in 2015 have sales and/or customer care roles mentioned as part of their overall recruitment requirement (e.g. Apple, Microsoft, Vodafone, Zimmer,, Sage, Dairymaster, Slane Distillery, O’Hara’s Brewery, LinenCare).

Proficiency in foreign languages is becoming an important part of the skill set in relation to sales and other roles, with German, French and Nordic languages being most frequently cited as a requirement by both indigenous and multinational companies.

Labour Market Research 24

These links are to well established sources of information used to review, evaluate and predict changes in our labour market.

Vacancy Overview 2016 - EGFSN 
Detailed analysis of labour market indicators, vacancy trends and difficult to fill vacancies from the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (May 2017)
Addressing the Demand for Skills in the Freight Transport, Distribution and Logistics Sector in Ireland 2015 2020 
February 2015 EGFSN report assessing the skills and competency requirements for the Freight Transport, Distribution and Logistics sector in Ireland up to 2020
Vacancy Overview 2014 - EFGSN 
The Vacancy Overview 2014 produced May 2015 by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in SOLAS on behalf of the EGFSN, draws on data from newly advertised job vacancies in the following sources: DSP Jobs Ireland and The analysis focuses
Monitoring Ireland's Skills Supply 
July 2015 report on those entering and leaving the Irish education system (primary, post-primary,further education and training, and higher education) spanning the ten levels of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ)
Regional Labour Markets Bulletin 2015 
Annual report produced by the EGFSN which identifies variations in skills supply and demand across 8 regions (Border, Dublin, Mid East, Mid-West, Midland, South East, South West and West).
Assessment of Future Skills Requirements in the Hospitality Sector in Ireland 2015-2020 
Report from the EGFSN assessing the skills demand within the Hospitality sector in Ireland to 2020 to ensure the right supply of skills to help drive domestic hospitality sector business and employment growth.
Vacancy Overview 2015 - EGFSN May 2016 
A report produced by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in SOLAS for the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs contextualising 2015 vacancy data with what is occurring in the Irish labour market
Future Skills Needs of the Biopharma Industry in Ireland August 2016 
This report reviews the supply of, and demand for, skills within the Biopharma Industry in Ireland up to 2020, with a specific focus on Biologics manufacturing as a growing sub-sector within the industry. It is estimated that 8,400 potential job openings
Regional Labour Markets Bulletin October 2016 
A Report prepared by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in SOLAS.
Trends in Education and Training Outputs 
Monitoring Ireland's Skills Supply - A report by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) in SOLAS for the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs November 2016
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Current Labour Market Info 4

These sites provide news of current events that relate to our evolving labour market.

IBEC Quarterly Economic Trends 
Download publication in PDF format.
SCSI Employment Opportunities & Skills Requirements for Construction and Property Surveying 2014-18 
New report April 2014 from SCSI outlining the Employment Opportunities and Skills Requirements for Construction and Property Surveying projected from 2014-2018
Shortage of craft/entry level staff in the Hotel Sector 
Hotels and guesthouses are experiencing serious difficulties recruiting suitably qualified craft/entry level staff - IHF Annual Conference 24/2/14
National Skills Bulletin 2015 
The National Skills Bulletin 2015 provides an overview of the Irish labour market at occupational level, drawing on a variety of data sets, which have been systematically gathered in the National Skills Database (NSD) since 2003.

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