In 2013, Ireland will increase its intake of skilled technical talent from overseas to tackle the skills gap by 700 to 1,900 skilled workers in 2013, Jobs Minister Richard Bruton told this morning’s Future Jobs Forum in Dublin.
Bruton told the conference that Europe’s skills challenge in terms of ICT skills is immense. He said there is a gap of 700,000 people in the ICT industry in Europe at present and just 114,000 graduates are emerging from Europe’s universities.
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“There’s no doubt when you look at it the ICT sector and what it is bringing to the table, it is dramatically changing the face of a lot of sectors, democratising start-ups who don’t have the same barriers they used to, it is compressing the world market.”
Bruton pointed to research that indicated for every technology job created a further five jobs are created in the economy.
“There is a creative core driving change across many sectors, the impact on our economy can be profound if we position ourselves correctly.”
Bruton said Europe faces a skills cliff in terms of graduate availability versus the skills gap.
“The gap is growing but also because we’re not replacing those people who are retiring. The problem is getting people to pick this sector as a career. It is a profound source of growth and in Europe the ICT sector is growing at a rate of 7pc.”
Bruton said Ireland has taken the commitment to double the number of ICT graduates and is doing this through graduate conversion courses.
One initiative involves halving the 20pc ICT course dropout rate in universities.
Burton said another area that needs to be addressed with urgency by his department and the Department of Education is maths performance in schools.
In November, Bruton revealed that work is under way between the Department of Justice and the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation to develop a permit system that meets the needs of indigenous and multinational employers who are seeking highly skilled workers from overseas, in the global race for the best talent.
At the Future Jobs Forum, he said that every year about 1,200 people are granted work permits.
He said that in 2013, this number will be increased by 700.
“We are doing this through simplification of rules, extending the range of occupations that will have fast-track access, cutting the processing time by one-third. We are also embarking on more formal, trusted relationships with companies with established track records with the IDA and Enterprise Ireland in confidence.”
However, 700 may seem like a paltry number in the eyes of the tech sector, which complains there are currently 5,000 job vacancies in the tech sector on an ongoing basis.
Bruton said there is clear capacity for Ireland to work better in terms of processing work permits and that he is committed to making major reforms.
This strategy, he said, dovetails with investment funds that have been established, aimed at getting first time entrepreneurs to locate their start-ups in Ireland.
Bruton said in Europe, Ireland competes with locations like Berlin to create a dynamic tech cluster.
“We can positively offer Ireland as a dynamic location for the tech sector,” Bruton said.
Watch Minister Richard Bruton address the Future Jobs Forum on Ireland’s future skills needs:
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