The CAO change of mind facility is open until 1st July 2013


This gives Leaving Cert students  the opportunity to change their minds about their CAO choices between now and 17.15pm on Monday 1st July 2013 and some of the country’s top employers want them to do just that! Let’s look at why.

It has been widely reported that Ireland currently has one of the biggest skills gaps in Europe between the skills of the available workforce and the needs of employers.

Companies with jobs to offer are finding it necessary to go abroad to get the people they need. Some are developing retraining programmes, others poach appropriately skilled workers from competitors.

On the one hand, there are numerous people who need jobs and have an appetite to work, and on the other, they do not have the necessary skills to take up available job vacancies.

The skills mismatch is attributed to the property boom and the demands of the construction sector pushing young people towards careeers in the related trades and areas such as property sales, architecture, and civil engineering.

During the boom up to a quarter of all young males were employed in construction-related businesses. Compare that to the fact that one fifth of all jobs advertised last year were in IT based career areas. The majority of companies recruiting had roles for programmers and software engineers. The IT industry sector employs 84,000 people and is predicted to grow substantially in the years ahead, but the skills of the Irish workforce have not kept pace.

The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs consistently reports that despite the unemployment rate, there are roles where workers are in short supply.

Occupations for which vacancies are proving particularly difficult to fill are professional posts in the areas of IT, engineering, sciencehealth, and businessas well as multilingual sales and customer care roles.

IDA Ireland brought 12,722 jobs to Ireland in 2012 through its client companies. A large proportion of those jobs were in IT and this trend is likely to continue. In a recent appeal for students to carefully consider their CAO choices, Barry O’Leary of IDA Ireland pointed to the fact that in the early part of 2013, all the big jobannouncements were technology-based.

Mark Ferguson of the Science Foundation of Ireland points to the range jobs that are currently open including entry-level positions for skilled graduates as well as PhD-level students.

He is confident that the output from universities and the needs of industry is improving, resulting from a number of positive initiatives. He reiterates the view there have been, and will continue to be, shortages of workers in software engineering, social media, and gaming but that employers have been proactive at retraining.

Mr Ferguson says second- level students and their parents needed to be mindful of the need to be flexible and learn different skills. For example, if a student studies science and chinese, they would have little difficulty finding work after college.

The Smart Futures STEM Careers Week was set up to speak to second-level students about rethinking their CAO choices.

The project had the support of top employers including Microsoft, Abbott, Ericsson, HP, Dell, Storm Technologies, DPS Engineering, and Cook Medical. Conor Winders, CEO of Irish firm Redwind Software, described the areas of software engineering and programming as a very exciting sector for people who want to pursue careers in this field with “so many jobs in gaming and so many really cool jobs starting up.”

Marian Garvey, Senior technical recruiter with CPL, says they are being asked to fill jobs in technology and also in languages. “We’ve got companies from large organisations who have just moved in to well-established companies to small-medium enterprises. It really is an exciting time to be in the technology sector. “We are noticing a big demand for French, German, and Scandinavian languages or anybody with Spanish or Italian, a lot of the technology companies would love to see graduates with those types of languages.”

Within sectors, such as manufacturing, the shortage of skills can be quite specific. There is a particular gap in the availability of tool makers. The number of vacancies identified is very high relative to the number of positions available, but the information available on vacancies from the future skills group may not be not perfect as it relies on job advertisments through FÁS and a private jobs websites. This does not capture all positions that have opened up – for example, certain high-end positions may not be advertised in the general arena, and others will appear in a number of sources.

The gaps evidenced in the vacancy overview report echo those voiced by companies directly affected and
also the findings of EU research.

According to the EU Skills Panorama, the situation in Ireland has improved, with a 3% drop in the number of employers experiencing difficulties in recruiting specialist staff. This compares with rises in excess of 7% in other European countries including Sweden, Germany, France, Belgium, and Austria.

Europe-wide there are some 2m jobs available without suitable candidates to fill them, even at a time  of record unemployment. Going forward, are expected growth areas are expected to be in hi-tech manufacturing, chemicals, and computer services. The study had also predicted a significant drop in agricultural roles, but since then, there has been evidence of a growth industry due to the impending abolition of the milk quota.

So, plenty to think about if you are still unsure of what career path to follow.


Sunday 5th May 2013 – CAO Change of Mind Facility becomes available – There is No fee
Wednesday 15th May 2013: all late paper applicants will receive a statement of course choices
and CAO application number BEFORE this date
Friday 31st May 2013: CAO will post statement of application record to ALL CAO applicants BEFORE this date – important to check for any omissions or errors
Saturday 1st June 2013: Revised statement of CAO record becomes available for those who make a change of mind. The statement will not arrive before 1st June. If it does not arrive by the 7th July, you must contact CAO immediately.
Monday 1st July 2013: Change of mind facility closes at 17.15pm


Author: Francis O' Toole

Francis O' Toole is a Educational Psychotherapist & Guidance Counsellor. I set up this blog page to help students gain as much information as possible to be able to make right choices and decisions regarding their career options. I believe that we will be very successful in our careers if we follow what we enjoy.

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