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work and education

Balancing Work With Further Education

work and education

People are always looking to better themselves through education in the hope that it will lead to job security or better job opportunities. Further education can be personally and professionally very demanding. It is imperative that perspective students understand their own needs, interests and what time they can give to a part time college course in order to maximise the chance of course completion and doing well in exams. To choose the wrong course is to throw away money and waste time.

 

Colleges have varying options to accommodate the demands of perspective students. Distance learning, Online Courses or Attending Classes are the most viable solutions to completing a course while maintaining a work / life balance. Each option offers advantages and disadvantages:

 

  • Distance Learning has the advantage of not having regular classes. Courses run by institutions such as Open University (UK based) or Oscail (Irish based) run weekend classes once a month while sending out the necessary relevant learning material and asking the student to submit assignments by pre-set timelines. Unfortunately if student hasn’t the ability to self motivate, or has constant distractions, it is very difficult to successfully complete a course this way.
  • Online Courses do not have any classes at all therefore offering no demand on time for attendance. Online courses offer flexibility on when assignments are done to fit in with a busy schedule. The disadvantages are similar to Distance Learning with the added difficulty of not having the tutors to meet, making it onerous to get feedback on queries or guidance on subject matter.
  • Attending part-time college offers all the advantages of full time college students. There is regular access to lecturers through phone, meetings and e-mail. The opportunity to interact with other students gives the opportunity to learn from others and easy access to libraries enhances the ability to read course material without the cost of downloading or needing to buy literature. In saying that, attending college is very demanding on time. College can consume anything from one to three evenings a week for the duration of the course. Colleges do offer the chance to take a course over a longer period in an attempt to lessen the time pressure on students. Weekend courses are also an option but again do consume a lot of time for attendance.

 

On deciding which form of further education to follow, getting the work / college / life balance right is critical. In order to achieve the end goal, of a qualification and retaining a job, time should be taken to prepare for a new course. Some tips to assist in the succeeding of all aspects of college are:

  • Organisation: Write down the agenda of what needs to be done weeks and months in advance. The start of a course can creep up quickly so creating a diary around attendance, studying and exams will help create a constructive pattern to help in progressing. Don’t forget to make time for food…….”A healthy body equals a healthy mind”
  • Time Management: Institutions give a timetable (for classes, exams, assignment submissions etc.) in advance of the college year. Ensure to know the timetable to avoid the stress of “last minute cramming”.
  • Prioritise: Once the course has started it is important to understand subjects that cause more “work” than others. Ensure to allocate appropriate resources to each subject allowing for the maximum chance of passing the course.
  • Hard Work: Working a nine-to-five job is tough, add the pressure of college, and time will come where sleep feels like the only option available. Focus, take each day and each study session as it comes. When in class or studying, commit to the task at hand. Take as many notes as possible as writing helps solidify what has been taught. Further education coupled with work is tough. Remain focused on the goal, it is worth it.
  • Make friends: Getting to know others studying the same course will help, it is a great way to see alternative ways of thinking about subjects. Other students are in the same boat so will be willing to help each other and empathise with the situation and challenges at hand. On the times you can’t make class, friends will take notes for you so nothing is missed.
  • Persistence: Attend college. The longer the year goes on the harder it can be to attend. Winter nights, the rain, snow and darkness make everything tough. Persistence in getting to class and doing assignments will stand you in good stead come exam time.

Posted by Peter Nunan, Former Manufacturing and Supply Chain Manager, Sigmar Recruitment on 28 November 2017

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IT Jobs Market 2021

IT Jobs Market 2021

2020 was an interesting year for Ireland’s IT jobs market with the initial impact of Covid causing some companies to reassess their recruitment practices - either pausing or freezing completely. However, most sectors have bounced back since March and we even saw some companies take advantage of a less competitive market and increased their hiring plans. In 2021, we expect to see a release of this “pent-up demand” for candidates as businesses begin to move back towards BAU models. Digital Transformation Digital transformation projects that typically would have taken years to plan happened practically overnight or over a few weeks as COVID-19 restrictions forced companies to speed up their digital adaptions in what became an “adapt or die” environment. 2021 will see a further increase in demand for individuals with digital transformation experience as companies accelerate further the digitisation of their customer and supply chain interactions and of their internal operations.   Companies who failed to innovate or tweak their processes to suit the demand of the market felt a larger impact than companies who remained agile and changed quickly depending on the market demands. Consumers have moved dramatically toward online channels during the pandemic, so companies are having to create digital or digitally enhanced offerings in response. Cybersecurity Unsurprisingly with the adoption of remote work and the planning for transition to the next “normal”, we have seen huge demand for infrastructure and security professionals which we foresee continuing in 2021. As organisations pivoted to work from home models, security engineers rushed to establish secure connections and prevent network threats that targeted remote workers. At the same time, with the surge in online shopping and e-commerce transactions, they had to bolster their organisation’s e-commerce platforms. 2021 will see organisations continue to increase their spend on cybersecurity as companies look to how they will operate in a post-pandemic world. With many organisations such as Google planning for a “Hybrid” work-from-home model, i.e. employees working a few days in the office and a few at home, network security will be a priority. MedTech, Life Sciences and Healthcare Given how health has never been more in focus than it has been in the past year, it is perhaps no surprise that there has been a huge demand for IT professionals in the wider health industry. MedTech and Life Sciences companies are continually developing new and innovative treatments and consequentially developing technologies to enable this. We have seen an increase in demand of more “hybrid roles” such as IT professionals with experience working specifically within class 1 medical devices fields. Biotech and digital transformation within gene cell therapy in particular is set to be a large growth area for 2021. Connected health is set to be a large growth area for 2021 also, as medical practices are forced to digitize and with telehealth being forecast to grow exponentially. Candidate-led Market Despite the initial dip in March 2020, the market very much remains candidate driven. Particularly now as candidates are no longer bound to jobs within commuting distance of the office. Regional talent pools have flourished as candidates who would have worked in major cities, now have the opportunity to work remotely meaning they can move to their preferred location and still do the same job on the same salary as before. Regional companies also benefited as they are now able to tap into larger talent pools due to remote working practices. Perhaps what has been most surprising about 2020, is that salaries have stayed relatively stable, but candidates have been seeking increases in their packages over base. With the increase in remote working opportunities, candidates are no longer distracted by “bells and whistles” (free food, ping pong tables etc.) and instead are more interested in actual projects, technologies being used and career growth and progression. Therefore, our advice to employers is consider how you are marketing your positions. Contractors We saw in our 2020 Q3 survey findings that many businesses looked to Contractors to fill gaps in their teams while coping with the uncertainty in the market due to COVID-19. From recent discussions with our clients this trend is likely to continue in 2021. We particularly foresee an increase in demand of contract roles for Frontend/Fullstack Developers, DevOps Engineers and Data Analysts. As a result of the increase in demand, contract rates have been on the rise. With many large and SME organisations reverting to remote work this has opened the market up to all areas of Ireland. A big trend is seeing Contractors based in the regions now being able to work for the large organisations in the cities and receive the same rates of those based in the cities. Therefore, rates in the regional areas of Ireland have increased due to the remote access of new roles in the industry. All-in-all, we are optimistic about the IT jobs market in 2021 with plentiful opportunities across digital transformation, cybersecurity, MedTech, pharma etc. The roll-out of the vaccine should increase confidence and create further opportunities as the year progresses. Download our IT Salary Guide Ireland 2021 (PDF)

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Salary Guide 2021

Salary Guide 2021

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