Government of Ireland
Regional Skills

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National Skills Bulletin 2021

22 October 2021 


Foreword by the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris T.D.

"The work of the National Skills Council is needed now more than ever. COVID-19 wreaked havoc in all our lives and its impact on the economy has been severe. Since the beginning of 2020, many have lost their jobs while the number of people relying on emergency supports was significant.

However, the effects of the restrictions have not been evenly distributed. Those working in sectors such as accommodation and food, wholesale and retail, and construction have been the more significantly impacted with those working as cleaners, sales assistants, waiters, and kitchen assistants seeing substantial falls in employment, with many in receipt of income support payments.

While full-time employment remained relatively unchanged, part-time employment fell; the number of persons employed with third level qualifications grew while those with lower levels of education saw a decline in employment levels. The increase in average earnings across most sectors in 2020 could be seen as a positive indicator, but it may also be a reflection of the lower paid jobs being most affected by COVID-19.

Despite the many issues faced in 2020, employment remained buoyant in some areas. Sectors such as ICT, financial and professional activities, public administration and industry (particularly high and medium-high tech manufacturing) all saw employment gains. The transitions and recent job hire data detailed in this report indicate that movements into and within employment along with hirings still continued, albeit at a reduced rate. Vacancy notifications were evident across all sectors, difficult-to-fill vacancies persisted, and the number of new employment permits issued continued to grow. Shortages of skills have been identified across a number of areas including IT, science and engineering, health and skilled crafts.

As we emerge from the pandemic, there are many challenges to be faced. Providing those who found themselves unemployed due to COVID-19 with the skills required to re-enter the workforce is a priority. In addition, further actions to upskill and reskill the existing workforce will also be essential to ensure Ireland meets the challenges faced by COVID-19, Brexit, automation and those brought about by our need to address climate change.

Remote working and new hybrid working models will bring both challenges and opportunities in terms of addressing digital skills needs and being able to attract more people back into the workforce due to increased flexibility.

The analysis in the National Skills Bulletin aims to assist with meeting these challenges by detailing the outlook across many occupations. The identification of the type of people employed across these roles will assist with the direction of education and training interventions required over the coming months. This Bulletin forms a key evidence base to inform labour market policy decisions as Ireland moves to a new phase in its recovery from the pandemic."

Simon Harris T.D.
Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science