Fingal County Council has recently undertaken an innovative research project, firstly forecasting the skills demand over the next seven years, and subsequently developing a strategy to meet it.
Fingal County Council (FCC) recognises that the availability of skilled workers, particularly in high value adding sectors, is key to maintaining competitiveness and attracting investment in to the County. At the other end of the spectrum, despite low unemployment rates, there are concentrations of people across the county who are significantly disengaged from the labour market.
To this end, realising the need for a consolidated skills strategy for Fingal, FCC brought together leaders from education providers, the policy making sphere and academia to form a working group that has developed an innovative, county specific, skills strategy for Fingal.
This has been a comprehensive exercise, first forecasting replacement and expansion demand over the next seven years, under three different growth scenarios, and subsequently mapping it against the supply-side pipeline to produce a ‘labour market balance sheet’ for the County.
Over the horizon, it is forecast that 94,000 vacancies will be filled in total, with 29% of these being new jobs resulting from increased investment. Approximately 53% of these jobs will be met by the current supply pipeline. However, the modelling conducted in this study estimates that each year, there will be a supply deficit of approximately 7,600 jobs. When disaggregating the results by individual sector, the greatest gap between supply and demand will be experienced by the commerce and trade (42% of latent demand) and professional services sectors respectively (24%).
The study also examines the occupational skills groups that will be most in demand. Within commerce and trade, the largest skills gap will be in elementary occupations (such as labourers, cleaners, porters, sorters etc), of which an additional 1,231 above the current supply pipeline will be demanded per annum. Within the professional services sector, the skills that will be most in demand are those within the professional and technical occupations and administrative and secretarial occupational groupings. Across all sectors, the largest demand will be for elementary occupations (26% of latent demand), sales and customer services (19%) and professional and technical occupations (16%).
When looking at the analysis, it is encouraging that a strong mix of both high and low skilled jobs will be created in Fingal over the coming seven years, proving employment opportunity for almost everyone across the County. Nonetheless, addressing the skills gap as estimated in the Strategy will require a proactive approach by FCC, education providers, industry and central government. The strategy contains a series of specific, targeted actions, committed to by stakeholders, which are designed to close the skills gap that will otherwise emerge over the coming seven years.