HE in Ireland: “Axe hangs over 750 posts”

Whilst UK institutions are facing significant financial challenges, the situation in Ireland seems distinctly difficult according to the Irish Independent.

The paper states that up to 750 jobs are to be cut by December and that academics, research staff and administrative, technical and other support posts will be equally affected by the instructions to reduce numbers by 3% by December:

There will be no compulsory redundancies and the cuts will be achieved through non-filling of posts and the non-renewal of fixed-term contracts. The move is part of the Government’s effort to slash the size and cost of the public sector. The cutbacks mean that colleges also have to get special approval to fill certain jobs. Where a college seeks an exemption to fill a vacancy, it must get permission from the Higher Education Authority (HEA), the Department of Education and the Department of Finance.

It must complete a form explaining the basis for filling the post and, in the case of lecturers, confirm all existing lecturing capacity is being used. In the case of lecturers, colleges have been advised that they won’t get approval in the absence of confirmation that all available lecturing capacity is already being used. The HEA has put in place an Employment Control Framework setting out how the colleges are to achieve the cuts.

In the case of academics, the HEA has notified each individual college of the actual number of academic/teaching posts that must go. Colleges have some discretion about what academic posts should be suppressed, but must deliver on the December 2009 bottom line figure dictated by the HEA. In the case of administrative, technical and other support jobs, vacancies may not be filled, contracts may not be renewed and no new posts may be created.

This really is pretty dramatic stuff. Whilst we might think things are pretty bad in the UK, we are a long way from this kind of intervention.

“Top employers cut graduate jobs”

According to BBC Education, at least

But the survey quoted here reports a reduction in the number of vacancies compared to 2008 and a reduction against target:

There is further evidence of a tough graduate jobs market with a survey showing vacancies down 13.5% on 2008.graduation1
Research among the top 100 employers identified by graduates shows that the only area with significant growth was the armed forces – up 11%. As numbers of jobs have shrunk, firms have been getting more applicants for each – a third more than last year. High Fliers Research, which carried out the survey, said employers had cut recruitment targets by 28%. Employers have recruited 14,370 graduates to join their payrolls – against an original target of 19,951. Last year, there were 16,614 graduates recruited.

Yes, it is the most challenging time to be a graduate in the jobs market at the moment and it is going to be really tough for a lot of this year’s cohort, leaving university in the middle of the worst recession for generations. You have to feel a huge amount of sympathy. But the government is, to its credit, trying to mitigate some of the effects, at least in the short run, through internship opportunities etc.

However, if the general media reporting on this issue were to be believed, you would think that there were no graduate jobs available at all anywhere in the country. This simply is not the case, although the position is undoubtedly worse than in previous years, and the way this issue is reported doesn’t help.

The Guardian carries a similar report.

New internships for graduates this summer

Government launches ‘Graduate Talent Pool’ which is intended to boost opportunities for graduates.

A new dedicated website, which will match employers with suitable graduates will be launched over the summer, although interested organisations can register their interest in becoming part of the Graduate Talent Pool today online at www.dius.gov.uk/graduatetalentpool. Businesses that have already signed up to the Talent Pool include Network Rail, the Police Service, Marks and Spencer and Microsoft. During the current economic downturn the Government is looking to support graduates seeking work. The aim is for the ‘Graduate Talent Pool’ to support 5,000 internships, building on the 2,000 already achieved through HEFCE’s Economic Challenge Investment Fund and will sit alongside other additional graduate opportunities…

Meanwhile, the University of Nottingham has won a share of the Economic Challenge Investment Fund and with match funding from the University and local businesses this will:

provide £1m for the Centre for Career Development (CCD), the Institute of Enterprise and Innovation (UNIEI) and the Graduate School to deliver the ‘Talent Builder’ project. The project will offer internships to graduates, post-graduates and unemployed professionals. It will also offer a recession proofing programme to strengthen current businesses and support new start-up companies.

So, although prospects are reported as being rather gloomy for graduates, substantial efforts are being made by DIUS and universities and these internship opportunities should make a difference.