Published today, the annual report by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs reveals increasing numbers of students entering and leaving the Irish education and training system, and shows that those with higher qualifications are more likely to be in employment.
It also finds increasing CAO acceptances for computing, science and engineering-related subjects, which it says will impact positively on graduate output in the medium term.
The report, ‘Monitoring Ireland’s Skills Supply: Trends in Education and Training Outputs 2010’, focuses on a range of areas, including the demographic profile of the school age population, Junior and Leaving Cert trends, further education and training awards and higher education trends, as well as looking at graduates’ progress.
“For the first time in the Monitoring Ireland’s Skills Supply series, we have taken a closer look at where graduates go from higher education,” said Una Halligan, chairperson of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. “The key finding for third-level graduates aged between 25 and 34 is that even in the current economic climate, 85pc of them with an honours bachelor degree and above are at work. The overwhelming message here is that further education creates opportunities.”
Some of the key findings of the report include:
- Almost 200,000 awards were made in the academic year 2008/2009 across all levels on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ) – a 2pc increase on the preceding year.
- Some 84,000 people received awards in further education and training (major awards) and higher education.
- 31pc of those were at NFQ level 8 (honours bachelor degree), which is almost the same as the previous year.
- 18pc were postgraduate awards – a 4pc increase on the previous year.
- The number of FETAC (major) awards increased by almost 20pc.
- Students are more likely than ever before to sit the Junior and Leaving Certificate examinations, with retention rates of 94.6pc and 81.3pc respectively.
- The share of FETAC award holders aged 30 and over made up 54pc of the total in 2009, compared to 48pc in 2007.
- The number of CAO acceptors aged 23 and over is also increasing.
- Part-time awards in higher education accounted for more than a fifth of the total in 2008.
- CAO acceptances increased for computing, science and engineering.
- 1,100 PhD awards were made in 2008 – almost a 50pc increase since 2004 – and almost 50pc were in technology-related subjects.
This report examines, for the first time, the economic status of young (aged 25-34) third-level graduates and finds that those with education qualifications of NFQ level 8 and above are most likely to be in employment, with 92pc at work.
Unsurprisingly, those with qualifications in engineering or construction were less likely than a year previously to work in this field, with an increased proportion working in science-related occupations, mainly as software engineers, in 2009. Four-fifths (80pc) of engineering graduates were at work, compared to 90pc in the first quarter of 2008. While 54pc of science graduates work in the science sector, a further 10pc work in education, almost exclusively as third-level lecturers.
According to the report, there were more than 65,000 junior infants in 2008, a figure that could rise by more than 10,000 by 2013, based on an increase in the number of births. Second-level enrolments, meanwhile, are expected to increase by 22,300, or 7pc, by 2018, based on Department of Education and Science projections.
The report also forecasts that rising participation rates in higher education combined with increasing numbers sitting the Leaving Certificate should ensure further growth in CAO acceptances numbers, and subsequently graduate output, in the coming years.