The sector is facing significant challenges from international competition, industry consolidation and reduced domestic demand. Employment in manufacturing in Ireland has experienced two significant shocks in the last decade, however, there are significant differences across sectors.
Employment in Food and Beverages manufacturing; Pharma-chemicals and Medical Devices has been largely resilient in the face of significant internal and external downside risks. Employment in ICT hardware and Engineering manufacturing has also largely remained stable in the last three years after significant downturns in 2007/2008. There are long term declines within Consumer Goods and Other Manufacturing sectors, however, there is also sustainability and competitiveness improvements within these sectors where companies have invested in product development, design and technology.
As employment declined from 2007-2012, there has been a greater impact on lower skilled positions, driven by a combination of competitiveness, human capital and technological factors. From 2007-2012, the proportion of those in managerial, professional, STEM professionals and associate professional/technical roles has increased from approximately 25 per cent of total employment to 32 per cent. This highlights that as employment levels have declined overall from 262,000 to 206,000 from 2007 to Q1 2012, those in higher skilled roles have not been impacted to as great an extent as those within production and elementary roles.