Billy Ryle: What Lies Ahead In A Post-COVID World Of Employment

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With less than a week to go until the CAO online change of course facility ends, Billy Ryle looks at what lies ahead for college applicants in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic…

The Coronavirus pandemic is a game changer for those using the CAO online change of mind facility by 1st July.

Just six months ago, college applicants were full of the joys of life and well aware of employment opportunities in a buoyant economy.

They were buying into the notion that the jobs market was their oyster if they were well educated with a marketable qualification.

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But all has changed, has changed utterly since the deadly Coronavirus pandemic invaded our shores. Unemployment shot up from 5% to a staggering 18%. All non-essential services ground to a halt.

The Leaving Cert was cancelled in favour of ‘calculated grades.’ Will this system do justice to the 60,000 candidates who are anxiously awaiting results next August? Only time will tell!

Of more immediate concern to college applicants is whether to stick with their original choices or opt for courses that this ‘new normality’ is receptive of.

They have less than a week to get it right as the CAO ‘change of course’ facility (free) closes at 5.15pm on Wednesday next, 1st July. Here are a few observations which may help applicants to make the right decisions.

Analyse your personal career profile, based on ability, achievement, application, aptitude, ambition, values, interest and personality (5AVIP).

Career profiling isn’t an exact science, but it’s a useful exercise in appropriate course selection.

Also consider the skills’ set needed in the work environment of the future. Remote working is here to stay so self-management, self-motivation and self-discipline skills are growing in importance.

The acceleration of social media platforms, artificial intelligence, data analysis, automation and digital communication during Covid-19 has forever changed long established business practices.

Many more business transactions are taking place online so expect huge demand for graduates with analytical and digital skills, e-business qualifications, software and coding skills.

The events of recent months will result in applicants opting in large numbers for science, engineering and information technology courses. The Government’s promotion of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) provided Ireland with world class expertise to restrain Covid-19.

Science is riding the crest of a wave with attractive jobs available in industrial, medical, environmental and research science.

In the current ‘green wave’, environmental, agricultural, marine and physical sciences will be very employment friendly.

Front line healthcare workers – Doctors, Pharmacists, Nurses, Physiotherapists and allied healthcare staff, who were the heroes of Ireland’s containment of the virus, will inspire altruistic young people to apply in large numbers for courses in healthcare.

Public service jobs proved immune to the unpredictable economic decline. Public sector workers remained on the state payroll during the crisis while thousands of private sector workers depended on a variety of Covid-19 payments.

The financial security provided by a ‘permanent, pensionable State job’ will appeal to many college applicants.

The need for housing and infrastructure will result in high demand for courses in civil, mechanical, electrical, environmental and structural engineering, architecture, quantity surveying, valuation surveying, property management and auctioneering.

With so much emphasis in the jobs market on skilled and well-qualified personnel, each college applicant should be aware that her/his chances of employment are considerably increased by a competitive qualification.

But remember, a strong work ethic, high-digital skills, adaptability and a passion for your qualification will make you more employable in a rapidly changing work environment.

CHECKLIST

• Applicants have until 5.15pm on 1st July to submit a CAO online change of mind
• Apply for courses based on your personal career profile (The 5AVIP system)
• Remote working requires self-management, self-motivation and self-discipline skills
• Digital skills, e-business qualifications, software & coding skills will be in demand
• Jobs in STEM (Science, Tech., Engineering, Maths) are riding the crest of a wave
• The ‘green wave’ will need environmental, agricultural, marine and physical scientists
• Courses in ‘front line healthcare’ will be in high demand this year
• Work ethic, high-digital skills, adaptability and career passion are vital work skills
• Unlike the CAO, there isn’t a centralised application system for PLC courses
• Apply now for PLC courses to Colleges of Further Education for 2020 entry
• The priority closing date for applying to SUSI for a college grant is 9th July
• Due to economic uncertainty, all college applicants should apply for a SUSI grant
• SUSI must consider the adverse effects of Covid-19 when assessing grant eligibility
• ‘Covid-19 poverty’ must not deprive young people of further and higher education
• The €3000 student fee contribution must be abolished immediately

• Billy Ryle is a Career Guidance Counsellor and Educational Commentator

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