PhD Scholarship: Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs), Green Industries & Youth Employment Opportunities

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are the engines of economic growth, the backbone of most of the world’s economies and the principal sources of new employment. Investing in green industries  (e.g., sustainable transport; energy saving construction; conservation/Natura 2000; renewable energies) has been shown to have positive employment benefits which gradually increase over-time thereby improving the long-term sustainability of economic activity and the environment (Daly, et al., 2011). Green jobs are not just hi-tech jobs for the highly educated.  While the expansion of green industries will result in increased demand for scientists, researchers and engineers to develop cutting-edge technologies that will save energy and resources,  such innovation will need to be practically applied in the ‘real world’ across a range of sectors like transport, energy supply and construction. For example, an architect may design an eco-house, using the latest technologies to reduce power usage and increase thermal efficiency, but the building work will still be carried out by trades-people like joiners, electricians and plumbers.

With nearly 6 million Europeans under 25 currently out of work it is critical that jobs are generated in sustainable industries both for the benefit of the environment and to offer stable employment opportunities for young people. “Green workers” cover the spectrum of skill levels and can come from traditionally highly disadvantaged backgrounds (e.g., ethnic minorities; women; people with disabilities). Significant training and educational interventions will also be needed to ensure that the necessary competences exist in the workforce to increase employability, especially among young people in these green industries (the “supply side”); and to enhance the competitive advantage of green employers by attracting and developing  highly skilled workers (the “demand side”). 

Research areas that this PhD Fellowship might include (but are not, at all, limited to):

Examining the dynamic capabilities of successful companies, especially SMEs, operating in green industries and their propensity to create employment for young people;

  • Drivers of Entrepreneurship and Innovation in green industries and youth employment creation implications of these drivers;
  • Maximising youth employment opportunities, arising from green industries.

A primary strategic aim of this Fellowship is to attract the best global talent to the J.E. Cairnes School of Business and Economics NUI Galway and to support their development as innovative individuals who will contribute globally to debates on strategic policy decisions related to green industries, sustainable economic development and job creation for young people. We seek and thus encourage applications from both within the European Union (EU) and non-EU citizens. Applications from women are particularly encouraged. Scholarships will be awarded only to those who will engage full-time in research during the period of the award in NUI Galway.

You will be supervised by Professor Maura Sheehan whose expertise encompasses organisational performance, including within SMEs; HRM; and labour markets - especially employment opportunities for traditionally marginalised groups  (for further detail, please see Maura will be happy to clarify any academic questions that you have about this Fellowship. Her email is:

The successful candidate will register for a Structured PhD in the College of Business, Business, Public Policy & Law. To read more about our structured PhDs, please go to: The Fellowship is for four years with a total value of €16,000 per annum.  Out of this, fees of approximately €4,275 will need to be paid with the remainder available for a stipend. The successful PhD student will be provided with a dedicated desk and computer and will have the opportunities to participate in research seminars, workshops and avail of research supports through their doctoral programme.

It is intended that the successful candidate will register in either September 2013 or January 2014.


Proven and potential academic excellence.

  • Successful applicants will be expected – or predicted to - have achieved, an outstanding performance in a Masters programme in Economics; Engineering; Geography; Health Sciences; Innovation; Management or cognate disciplines.  Offers will be made conditional on a Distinction or a high Merit in a Masters programme (or an equivalent level of performance when a Distinction/Merit grade is not officially awarded);
  • Successful applicants will be expected to have a first or upper second class honours primary degree or equivalent. For students with undergraduate results expressed in GPA ("Grade Point Average") or QCA form, in the Irish university system a first corresponds to a 3.6 or above and an upper second corresponds to a 3.2 or above (but less than a 3.6). 
  • Successful applicants will have a strong background in quantitative analysis.

Written work

  • Applicants must provide two (2) academic essays or other writing samples, from their most recent qualification (relevant to their field of study) of 2,000 words each or 2,000 word extracts of longer work. This will be assessed for comprehensive understanding of the subject area; understanding of problems in the area; ability to construct and defend an argument; powers of analysis; powers of expression.
  • The written work should be typed. It is your responsibility to supply written work of the appropriate type and length.

Research Proposal

  • The Research Proposal should between 4-6 pages in length, and should relate broadly to the themes of this Fellowship. Your particular discipline-specific insights on these themes are welcome. This will be assessed for your reasons for applying; the coherence of the proposal; the originality of the project; evidence of motivation for and understanding of the proposed area of study; the ability to present a reasoned case; preliminary knowledge of research techniques; capacity for sustained and intense work; reasoning ability; ability to absorb new ideas, often presented abstractly, at a rapid pace. It will be normal for your ideas subsequently to change in some ways as you investigate the evidence and develop your project. You should nevertheless make the best effort you can to demonstrate the extent of your research question, sources and method at this moment. Your statement should focus on research etc. rather than personal achievements, interests and aspirations.

 Additional Required Application Materials

  • Current CV
  • Official Transcripts for all college/university degrees;
  • All applicants, whose first language is not English, or who have not been educated through the medium of English language during their two most recent years of study, must present qualifications in the English language. These details are available at:

Deadline and required full set of application materials.

The closing date for submission of completed applications is 17:00 (GMT), Friday, 16 August. Please send all required documentation to Mr Gerry Campbell ( application with the full set of supporting application material will be considered. You will be expected to be available for interview – which will be by SYKPE - if you do not live in Ireland, the week of 1 September 2013.

Document Check-List

  • Official Transcripts from all college/university degrees
  • Two academic essays (not to exceed 2,000 words)
  • Research Proposal (4-6 pages)
  • Current CV
  • English language qualifications, where applicable

The successful applicant will be expected provide two academic references/letters which will support his/her intellectual ability, academic achievement, motivation and ability to work in a group.

Head of Management

Dr Tony Dundon

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