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 Keith Hayes from Health Service Executive to give some advice for people considering this job:


Keith Hayes

Ambulance / Paramedic

Health Service Executive

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  Keith Hayes
At a minimum get your Leaving Cert, that’s required anyway. But don’t sell yourself short aim for a third level college qualification, something like a science degree. It may not have obvious benefits now but the career is changing direction so fast it could stand to you big time.

Take your time in applying I joined the service when I was 25 yrs old and looking back I think around that age is the right time. When you consider some of the calls we attend and things we may need to deal with, joining at 17 or 18 after the Leaving Cert with little or no life experiences may turn you off because it is very demanding physically, mentally and emotionally.

Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.

Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
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Labour Market Sector Profiles

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General Workers

Note: There are a number of occupations discussed in this section which, for simplicity purposes, are referred to as labourers; these include cleaners, porters, sorters, various types of mates and other occupations not elsewhere classified.

Key points for selected labourers

  • In 2015, approximately 145,000 persons were employed in elementary occupations, representing 7.4% of total employment nationally.
  • Almost two thirds (or 93,000 persons) were employed in elementary cleaning, construction and sales & storage occupations.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, overall employment contracted by 1.1% on average annually (in contrast to average annual growth of 0.8% nationally); there were 8,500 net job losses over that period.
  • Over the five-year period, employment contracted for most occupations, with the strongest rates of decline observed for elementary services occupations (5.3% on average annually), elementary construction and administrative occupations (each by 4% on average annually), and process plant (3.4% on average annually).
  • The largest absolute declines were observed for elementary construction occupations (7,000), process plant and administrative occupations (2,000 each).
  • In contrast, employment of cleaners expanded (3.5% on average annually, or 6,500 persons)
  • Between 2014 and 2015, overall employment contracted by 1.5% (in contrast to a 2.6% increase nationally).
  • There were 2,000 net job losses over that period; the largest declines were for elementary construction occupations.
  • The age profile of those employed in elementary administrative (i.e. postal workers, mail sorters) and security occupations was the most mature, with 27% and 20% aged 55 or older respectively (exceeding the national average share).
  • The overall education profile of persons employed in elementary occupations was skewed towards the lower end of the educational attainment spectrum; One third had attained lower secondary or less qualifications (double the national average share); 50% had attained higher secondary/FET qualifications (compared to the national average share of 37%), and 16% had third level qualifications (a third of the national average share).
  • Employment in most occupations was predominantly male; however, almost 70% of employed cleaners and 30% of elementary process plant workers were female.
  • At almost 60%, the prevalence of part-time work was the highest for cleaners ─ one of the highest shares among all occupations in the national workforce.
  • Almost 50% of employed cleaners were non-Irish nationals ─ one of the highest shares among all occupations in the national workforce; the share was also relatively high for elementary process plant workers (43%) and agriculture occupations (30%).

Shortage Indicators

The data on labour market transitions, job seekers and vacancies highlights the transitory nature of employment in elementary occupations (e.g. cleaners, security guards, routine testers, elementary construction workers, agricultural labourers etc.).

There is a higher than average share of non-Irish nationals employed in elementary occupations.

Attracting and retaining elementary workers will become increasingly challenging as job opportunities increase across all sectors of the economy, although there is currently no evidence of shortage of labourers in Ireland.

Labour Market Research 22

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

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
Regional Labour Markets Bulletin 2014 
Report prepared by the Skills and Labour Market
Research Unit in SOLAS aimed at providing an analysis of the key labour market indicators for each of Ireland’s eight administrative
regions: Border, Dublin, Mid-East, Midland, Mid-West, South-East, South-
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.
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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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