Future careers showcased by South East Regional Skills Forum in Kilkenny

Brian Keyes


Brian Keyes

Glen Collins Engineers Ireland, Michael Carbery, Head of Innovation, Keenan Systems, Mary Doolan, Project Manager, Prochem and Donal Higgins, MD Prochem Engineering

Glen Collins Engineers Ireland, Michael Carbery, Head of Innovation, Keenan Systems, Mary Doolan, Project Manager, Prochem and Donal Higgins, MD Prochem Engineering

South East Regional Skills Forum (SERSF) hosted a ‘Careers of the Future 2017’ event at Hotel Kilkenny this week for career guidance personnel across the South East region. The showcase provided the 150-strong audience with insights into career prospects across a variety of industry sectors that have significant job opportunities in the region.


The event was welcomed by Minister for Education & Skills who commented ‘I am delighted to see the South East Regional Skills Forum coordinating efforts to provide insights into career opportunities across so many sectors for the benefit of career guidance professionals. We need such initiatives to provide relevant information to learners about where the current and emerging job opportunities exist. The Regional Skills Fora are playing an important role in delivering improved responses to skills shortages across a variety of sectors in all regions of the country.’ 


Chairperson of the South East Regional Skills Forum, Dr Patricia Mulcahy, opened proceedings and noted, “There is a variety of starting points to any career – that can be a traineeship, an apprenticeship, a degree or a professional qualification. They are no longer mutually exclusive. Therefore, I encourage you to support your students’ ambitions to ‘reach for the stars’ but know that the path to their dreams can be varied and should be tailored to the learner’s current abilities and circumstances”.


A series of panel discussions, hosted by Sean Gallagher, heard from employers representing key industry sectors across the region, including: agriculture & food; construction; engineering & manufacturing; financial services; hospitality; ICT & pharma & medtech. 


Jackie O’Dowd, Programme Manager with SMART Futures, highlighted the importance of students studying at least one science subject and maths at second level to provide a basis for a wide variety of future careers in sectors that offer tremendous job opportunities.

Padraig Brennan, Director of Markets with An Bord Bia, explained the nature of Ireland’s growing agri-food industry which exports to all continents. Paul Nolan, Group Development Manager from Dawn Meats, highlighted the variety of careers available at all levels in the sector and also noted the need for people with language skills. Kelly Stephenson, an employee with Dawn’s Agri Team, spoke about enjoying the variety of her work.


Dermot Carey, Director of Training with the Construction Industry Federation, noted the need for approx. 100,000 additional employees in construction over the next four years. James Benson, Eastern Region Executive with CIF, explained that construction has offers variety and excellent career prospects. Brian Costello, Projects Manager noted that construction has evolved to become very high-tech and involves ‘building information modelling’ and other high tech construction and engineering disciplines.


Glen Collins from Engineers Ireland said there is a growing need for engineering skills and disciplines and, while roles are changing, robotics and artificial intelligence will actually result in more jobs, not less. Donal Higgins, Managing Director of Prochem Engineering in Kilkenny, gave insights into his company which supplies design expertise to high-tech manufacturing and food industries, noting that they need people with a broad-based engineering education that are willing to adapt. Michael Carbery, Head of Innovation with Keenan Systems in Carlow, noted that their business is growing internationally, as the need for more efficient food production increases. Mary Doolan, a chemical engineer with Prochem Engineering, advised that learners can develop a great career in the South East and they don’t have to have a top Leaving Cert, just a willingness to stick with their chosen area. Martin Stapleton, owner of CDS Architectural Metalwork, said that apprenticeships offer an excellent foundation to any career in engineering.


Marc Colman, Director of Financial Services Ireland with IBEC, gave insights into a growing dynamic financial services sector and noted the strength of financial services in the region. Brendan Ahearne, HR Director with Taxback in Kilkenny, advised prospective employees to improve the presentation of their CVs to reach an interview while Eoin Lyons of Taxback noted the wide variety of roles that financial services offers.


Colin Ahern of the Irish Hotels Federation and Ormonde Hotel General Manager said that the hospitality sector offers jobs and careers at all levels and pays very well for those who progress. Alicia McGuire, Group Operations Executive with FBD Hotels said the industry has changed and improved and offers tremendous opportunities for career progression.  Sarah Delaney, Front of House Executive with the Newpark Hotel, said that the hospitality sector offers great stepping stones to progress your career and is very enjoyable.


Dave Feenan, Director of Technology Ireland (IBEC), emphasised the variety of roles in ICT and said it is not all about programming. Cath Roycroft, Chief Operations Officer with Cartoon Saloon, said the company recruits people with a mix of design and digital skills. Alan Slattery of Cartoon Saloon noted that he was surprised at how useful maths and physics were in his role as production manager. Laurence Conroy, Managing Director of Ciphertechs, said that he is disappointed in the lack of females entering the ICT sector and commented that employers need more women in ICT.


Siobhan Dean, of Biopharmachem Ireland (IBEC), noted that most of the world leaders in pharma and medtech are in Ireland and offer tremendous employment opportunities. She added that honour maths is not a pre-requisite to a career in this sector. Orla Dwyer, Talent Programme Manager with Sanofi in Waterford, said they want more learners to come to them on work placement to get a flavour of the careers on offer. Emma Walsh, a graduate chemist with Sanofi, was first introduced to Sanofi as an under graduate while in college. She advised young people to believe in themselves and pursue their goals.