Ireland’s education system is making the right steps in tackling the skills gap in ICT, Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton, TD, said in his opening address at the Future Jobs Forum in the Convention Centre Dublin today.
Describing how Ireland’s previous economic model was unsustainable, Bruton said Ireland’s long-term future has to be built on skills.
So far, Irish entrepreneurship has seen the creation of 62,000 jobs, something which Bruton pointed out is much more than many of the other ‘tiger’ economies of the world.
The major issue, however, is that the ICT sector in Ireland is not just a sector in itself, but is one that has branched out to almost every single sector as digital technology, and using the internet to their advantage is just as vital to the continuation of businesses as having the employees to carry out their roles.
“The reality is that that gulf is going to get larger as technology invades every other sector,” added Bruton.
He raised the issue of how Ireland’s education system has been lagging behind for years in comparison with other non-tech specific jobs.
One example Bruton gave was an anecdote attributed to David Puttnam, chairman of Atticus Education, who said that if a doctor from 1911 entered the surgery of a doctor in 2011, they would be shocked at the huge difference in work practices.
However, in the same amount of time, a teacher from 1911 would find it much easier to understand a 2011 Irish classroom.
On a more positive level, significant improvements have been made in recent years in fostering a skills-based education system.
“The Irish education system has been squared up in terms of ICT and the formation of an ICT skills group has brought changes. We had set a target of the doubling of ICT graduates by 2018 but we are now on course for this to be reached by 2015,” Bruton said.
Reasons to be optimistic
Elsewhere, the doubling of the points for Leaving Certificate maths has seen a 58pc increase in people taking up honours maths, which is dramatically changing the scope of what students are aiming for when they enter third-level education.
“I do believe there’s a lot needed for engagement in the earliest stages of what an ICT career is like and I see it as a choice in order to break the stranglehold other careers have on students.”
Bruton also highlighted the huge improvement seen in the number of women leading high-potential start-ups. At the recent Enterprise Ireland High Potential Start Ups event, 41 female entrepreneurs created start-ups in 2013, up from 16 in 2012, indicating an encouraging number of women keen to break the gender divide that has been seen throughout the years.
Watch highlights of Minister Richard Bruton’s opening address at the Future Jobs Forum 2014 here:
Part 1 of 2:
Part 2 of 2: