Today we are competing for talent on a global basis, and while we are on the right path, we need to move faster and benchmark our education system against the other aspirant knowledge economies, like Singapore and Finland. That is according to Brendan Cannon, Corporate Affairs director at Intel, and EMEA co-ordinator of the Intel Girls and Women initiative.
Cannon applauds the work already under way by Ireland’s Minister for Education and Skills Ruairí Quinn and his department on Project Maths, and on facilitating extra time for maths and science in the classroom. "However, we could move faster," he says. "We’re operating on a global basis. It’s no longer good enough for us to incrementally improve and compare ourselves to how we were in the past.
“We have to compare ourselves with the people whom we are competing with worldwide, the Singapores, the Hong Kongs and the Finlands. These are the countries that we have to benchmark our education system against," he says, adding that it is time we looked at making science a compulsory subject through to Leaving Certificate level.
As EMEA co-ordinator for Intel’s Girls and Women initiative, Cannon feels strongly that we need to tackle the global issue of the low participation of women in science and maths-based careers. Research shows that figure could be as low as 6pc to 7pc across Europe, he says. Considering the solutions to the grand societal challenges we need to tackle, from climate change to food security, lie in the domain of maths and science, says Cannon, to leave 50pc of the talent pool behind means we cannot get there.
He believes positive role models are key, "showing young girls what kinds of careers are available to them in the future and then showing them women that have been very successful in that domain".
Watch the full interview with Brendan Cannon below:
Brendan Cannon is a panelist at the Future Jobs Forum, where international keynotes and local leaders will discuss Ireland’s challenges and opportunities in the global battle for talent, on 8 February at The Convention Centre Dublin