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 Tomas Flanagan from St. Michael's House to give some advice for people considering this job:

Tomas Flanagan

Occupational Therapist

St. Michael's House

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Tomas Flanagan

I would advise anyone interested in Occupational Therapy to read up on the profession or else try to meet a qualified Occupational Therapist and talk to them about their work.

The internet can be a great resource in getting information. Also information from the universities might indicate if this is a course that is suited to you. A lot of the course work relies on you being a self-directed learner. This makes the course different to other more mainstream/academic courses as the onus is on the student to complete a lot of work independently.

As this is a caring profession an interest in working with people is a must. You also need to be a good communicator as you will be working closely with clients, families and other staff on an ongoing basis.

Organisational skills are essential to enable you to manage a caseload.


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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Social & Caring Occupations

Key points for selected Social and Care occupations

  • In 2015, there were 112,000 persons employed in the selected social and care occupations, representing 5.7% of national employment.
  • Approximately 57,000 persons were employed as care workers/home carers, accounting for just over 50% of total employment in the selected occupations.
  • 80% of total employment was concentrated in human health and social work activities.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, overall employment levels increased by 1.8% (above the very modest national average rate of 0.8%); the strongest employment growth rates were observed for childminders (5.7% on average annually) and caring personal services (5.2% on average annually); in contrast, the strongest rate of contraction was observed for youth and community workers (5.9% on average annually).
  • Over that same period, there were almost a net 10,000 additional jobs created; the largest employment increases (in absolute terms) were observed for childminders and care workers/home workers; the largest decrease was observed for youth and community workers.
  • Employment levels of nursery nurses and assistants and social workers and welfare professionals remained relatively unchanged, although negative growth rates were observed.
  • Between 2014 and 2015, overall employment expanded by 9.9% (approximately 10,000).
  • Approximately one quarter of the overall workforce of most occupations was 55 years or older.
  • Almost all employed social workers and welfare professionals had attained third level qualifications; almost one third of both both care workers/home carers and caring personal services workers were third level graduates; just over one fifth of care workers/home carers had attained lower secondary or less qualifications.
  • The share of females employed in each occupation was well above the national average; almost all employed childminders and nursery nurses and assistants were female.
  • There was a higher than national average share of persons in part-time employment in most occupations; two thirds of employed nursery nurses and assistants worked part-time (one of the highest shares nationally).
  • One quarter of employed child-minders were non-Irish nationals – above the national average of 15%.

Shortage Indicators

In 2015, there were 57,200 care workers and 21,500 child-minders, of whom approximately one half worked part-time and the overwhelming majority was female.

These two occupations are characterised by high turnover rates, with 6,100 and 3,300 transitions due to a change of employer identified in 2015, respectively. In addition, these were among occupations with the highest number of transitions between employment, unemployment and economic inactivity.

Given the high level of turnover, as well as the high volume of job vacancies advertised (approximately 15,000 in May 2016), it is recognised that some employers may be experiencing difficulty in attracting and retaining qualified care and childcare workers.

In 2015, there were 6,000 caring/nursing major awards at NFQ level 5 and 5,000 in childcare at NFQ levels 5 and 6. In addition, there were 4,200 job ready carers and 400 child-minders seeking employment in May 2016.

Ireland’s ageing population will be a key driver of the future demand for care workers, while any increases in the labour force participation will result in the increase in the need for child-care workers. The extent to which this requirement translates into employment growth will partly depend on Government policy, given that a significant share of the care services and an increasing share of child-care services are publicly funded.

Some employment expansion was already evident in recent job announcements including those by Carechoice, Comfort Keepers Homecare, TTM Healthcare, Nua Healthcare and Ardmore Care.

While there is no shortage of nursing aids and healthcare assistants, geographical mobility and a lack of attractiveness of the job (e.g. temporary contract) have been identified as issues in relation to the availability of some healthcare skills.

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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