Ireland’s education system is at risk of falling behind the digital curve, warn business leaders and academics.
Ireland’s future workforce will be on the back foot if efforts are not made quickly to correct the anomaly of the lack of IT subjects being taught in secondary schools.
That’s the dire warning from the Industry Research and Development Group (IRDG), a non-profit organisation of businesses and colleges focused on driving innovation to foster job creation and prosperity.
‘The world is digitising quickly and, despite great teachers, our education system is not keeping up, meaning our future workforce is at risk of falling behind the curve’
– MARTIN CURLEY
“Our skilled labour force must continue to be viewed as a reason for companies to locate here,” said Martin Curley, chair of the Open Innovation and Strategy Policy Group, who was speaking at the IRDG’s annual conference in Croke Park this morning (24 October).
Why companies invest in Ireland
The IRDG conference is Ireland’s largest cross-sectoral meeting on innovation, bringing together 300 businesses across the sectors of life sciences, tech, food, engineering, construction and financial services to discuss the challenges and opportunities faced by today’s business leaders.
Curley is professor of innovation at Maynooth University and senior vice-president at Mastercard’s global digital practice. He is also the founder of Intel Labs Europe.
He warned that Ireland needs an education system that reflects the skills needed to succeed in a knowledge-based economy.
“The lack of an information technology subject in secondary education continues to be a big gap.
“The world is digitising quickly and, despite great teachers, our education system is not keeping up, meaning our future workforce is at risk of falling behind the curve.”
Education policymakers have yet to make coding part of the secondary school curriculum, despite Education Minister Richard Bruton, TD, saying that it was a State priority.
That said, Curley believes that Ireland is still managing to punch above its weight in certain areas. But for how long?
“Compared to other European countries, Ireland has a larger share of high and medium high-tech manufacturing, a higher number of top R&D spending companies, and a higher average R&D spend by these companies,” he said.
Recently, Ireland was reclassified from an innovation follower to a strong innovator in the European Innovation Scoreboard.
“We must equip our young people with the skills they will need if they are to keep up with these disruptive technologies,” said Curley.