Engineering talent in Ireland must be recognised, built on and fostered, IRC chair says (video)

31 Jan 2013

Prof Orla Feely, the chair of the Irish Research Council, recognises that much work remains on building up Ireland’s numbers in the areas of ICT and STEM talent, but she is optimistic that good progress is being made. That said, she believes Ireland’s achievements and talent in engineering is something it needs to be proud of and further fostered.

The Irish Research Council (IRC) was created in 2012, through the merger of the Irish Research Council for Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET), and funds Irish-based researchers.
“We fund the best and the brightest of our post-graduate and post-doctoral population to engage in research to come up with creative projects,” Feely explains of the new body. “And we seek to do that in a way that improves their training and education and their fit to contribute to the jobs market, and the social and economic requirements of the country.”

Wanted: skilled graduates

In her IRC role, and in her role as a professor in the School of Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering in University College Dublin, Feely sees first hand the industry need for an increase in the number of skilled graduates and researchers. She is quick to point out that the quality of Ireland’s graduates is second to none, but that the big ICT companies are looking for three or four times the number that are coming out of, for example, electronic engineering.
She believes there is progress being made, however. “Certainly at undergraduate level we are seeing students in electronic engineering come to us in numbers that we had not seen in many, many years,” she says. “And we are also seeing an increase in applications from international students, both at post-graduate and undergraduate level.”
Feely believes Ireland’s engineering heritage is a largely unsung one in the country. “Our engineering achievements in Ireland over the last few decades have been remarkable. Many of us who graduated in the Eighties went to the US, to Europe, Australia, but we gathered experiences and achievements there and in many cases brought them back to Ireland. We saw in the early years of the Celtic Tiger how that cohort of highly trained engineers can transform an economy and transform a country.”
“Yet, we have somehow at a national level not recognised this huge contribution to our economy, this great characteristic of this country as it now is,” she continues. “So I think we need to be more aware of our engineering talent in Ireland and what we need to do to foster it and to build on it.”

Watch the video below to hear Feely explain the role of the Irish Research Council in funding Ireland’s best researchers, how it links industry with these researchers, and to hear her views on how Ireland tackles the skills challenge:

Prof Orla Feely, chair, Irish Research Council, on fostering excellence in our graduates and researchers

Prof Orla Feely 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

Engineering image via Shutterstock

Ann O’Dea
By Ann O’Dea

Ann O’Dea is CEO and co-founder of Silicon Republic, Europe’s leading technology and innovation news service, reporting online since 2001. Ann is the driving force behind Silicon Republic’s Women Invent campaign, launched on International Women’s Day 2013, to champion remarkable women role models in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), and to help tackle the gender gap in the knowledge industries She is the founder of Inspirefest, a unique new international sci-tech event, which is grabbing headlines for disrupting the traditionally ‘male and pale’ tech conference calendar. Ann was awarded a fellowship in May 2015 from the Irish Computer Society for her work in championing women in STEM. Ann received a Net Visionary award from the Irish Internet Association in 2015 for her work on ensuring the visibility of remarkable women role models in her industry, and was named ‘Media Woman of the Year’ at the Irish Tatler Women of the Year Awards 2014. In 2015, she was the first woman to be inducted into the Irish Internet Association’s Hall of Fame. Ann sits on the advisory board of the Digital Youth Council, and the Royal Irish Academy’s Physical, Chemical and Mathematical Sciences Committee. She is a regular speaker and moderator at tech and STEM events.

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