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Minister warns of ‘skills shortages’ in key STEM industries

29 Jun 2021

More than half of STEM companies in Ireland are having difficulty recruiting staff in IT and engineering.

Ireland could be facing severe skills shortages within the STEM sector, according to Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science Simon Harris, TD.

Speaking at the National Economic Dialogue yesterday, (28 June), Harris was emphatic on the need to solve the ongoing shortage of talent in the key areas for Ireland’s post-pandemic economic recovery.

“It is vital as we seek to rebuild post-pandemic that people are retrained and reskilled in areas where there are skills shortages or in areas where there will be economic growth,” he said.

His comments come after he announced the provision of 10,000 free places on almost 300 Springboard+ courses earlier this month, which are due to be made available in 2021.

The courses will enable people to upskill in areas such as cybersecurity, virtual reality, health innovation and logistics – all areas in need of workers.

Harris cited research carried out by the Solas, which found there was a particular skills shortage in the STEM industry.

“Work by Solas has found over half of science, engineering and technology companies are having difficulty in recruiting software developers, designers, engineers and technical support staff.”

He also said that a third of recruiters in the construction industry were facing challenges in recruiting quantity surveyors, civil engineers, site engineers, scaffolders and pipe layers.

“This is in stark contrast to 4pc of companies facing difficulties in recruiting accountants and 9pc finding it difficult to recruit those in transport and storage.”

Harris added that the impact of the pandemic on the labour market had to be fixed and that specific attention would need to be paid to address the imbalances created by the pandemic.

“Our work shows the impacts of Covid-19 on the economy have impacted certain cohorts of workers – female, younger – to a greater extent and specific attention will need to be paid to these cohorts in the post-Covid recovery,” he said.

“It is clear there is a skills mismatch which we need to try and fix. It is critically important Government and industry focus now on the areas where we need people and talent.”

He also outlined plans to develop a new pact with businesses across the country to address the issues and to publish a new literacy plan in the summer months. Earlier this month, Harris announced a multimillion-euro investment to upskill those whose jobs are unlikely to return post-pandemic and prepare technological universities for the future.

Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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