Irish employers are struggling to find talent in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, and a new report from SOLAS and Lightcast shows how Ireland can use “skill adjacencies” to find the workforce it needs.
The report, “Shifting Sands: Navigating the patterns emerging in the Irish labour market post-COVID-19,” analyzes the current state of the Irish job market. By doing so, SOLAS, the Further Education and Training Authority in Ireland, presents which jobs have been most affected by the pandemic, and also shows the skills and jobs that can best help displaced workers regain employment in Ireland.
Using Skills to Climb the Career Ladder
The key insight from this report is its presentation of career pathways for affected workers. Lightcast Global Occupation Taxonomies map which skills are required for specific jobs, and that insight can show how workers can transition from one role to another by leveraging the skills they already have. This strategy, called “skill adjacencies,” can show the way to a solid, reliable path forward in an uncertain time.
For example, the occupation of “Reservation/Ticket Agent” was hit hard during the pandemic as venues closed. Lightcast data show that Reservation/Ticket Agents have skills that include customer service, sales, and monitoring Key Performance Indicators (KPIs). Those same skills are needed by Customer Service Representatives—meaning that transitioning from one to the other would be relatively easy.
The former ticket agent would need to add some additional skills (e.g. product knowledge, social media, and data entry), but they would still be in a good position to obtain a Customer Service Representative job, which requires a similar education level but pays better on average. From there, only a few more skills are required for a promotion to Sales Executive and another salary increase.
In mapping these career pathways, the Shifting Sands report focused on three key factors. A pathway needed to be:
Possible—occupations needed to have an overlap of skills
Feasible—demand for a “destination” job needed to be stable or increasing, and education requirements had to be similar
Desirable—every destination job comes with a projected pay raise
Irish Employers Fighting for Talent
As in many other countries, the Irish labor market is increasingly tight, and employers are rethinking their strategies as they seek out the talent they need. Many are offering new incentives: the share of job postings that mention on-the-job training or a signing bonus have also increased dramatically—18% and 59%, respectively.
One of the clearest examples of this is in remote work, which has become increasingly common in the post-pandemic economy. Postings offering remote work increased 610% from 2019 to 2021. This reflects market tension in two potential ways—first, businesses want to expand their pool of potential candidates by reaching beyond their geographic location, and second, employers are bowing to employee preference.
Unlocking economic prosperity starts by creating economic understanding. By showing the current state of the labor market in Ireland and how it has changed over the past three years, policymakers can see where the best opportunities are for developing the Irish workforce, and jobseekers are provided with a meaningful and tangible first step.