80pc of Irish students learn about ICT outside the classroom

27 Jun 2011

The kids have spoken, the writing’s on the wall: more than 80pc of Irish secondary school students look outside the classroom to learn about ICT. This damning indictment comes at a time when Ireland’s ICT industry is hard pressed to find skilled graduates.

Research released today by the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, based on a survey of secondary school students, found almost 50pc believe science and technology are the areas that offer the most opportunities for entrepreneurs setting up a business in Ireland.

However, three-quarters of all those surveyed believed that information technology is not adequately taught in their schools, and the majority of students surveyed have turned to the internet or their friends to learn more about technology.

The recession, increased competition for college places and emigration are weighing heavily on their minds, with 81pc of students agreeing that the strain of the recession is creating additional pressure for them to achieve high marks. Some 86pc of students surveyed agreed that in order to pull Ireland through the economic downturn, continued investment in research and development was paramount.

A generation that believes ‘compulsory business know-how’ would be beneficial

Students recognise the importance of knowing how to run a business and of entrepreneurship, and are not shying away from hard work – one-third of those surveyed agree that shortening the length of summer holidays would benefit their education. An encouraging 72pc of students surveyed felt a compulsory ‘business know-how’ class would help prepare them for the working world.

“The research highlights how aware the younger generation are of the issues Ireland faces,” explained Colm O’Neill, managing director, Business, BT Ireland.

“Through our work with them at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition, we are always so impressed by how focused they are on solutions rather than the problems.

“It is essential that we encourage this positive attitude and provide them the know-how, skills and confidence they will need to become the next generation of leaders in uncertain times,” O’Neill said.

The survey also found that:

  • Medicine, pharmacy and dentistry are seen as the most popular career choices moving forward. The least popular were sales and marketing.
  • Some 46pc felt more positive about their future career prospects
  • Education, followed by employment, were the two most popular type of questions that students would ask new Government leaders if they had the chance
  • Some 18pc of participants said popular figures, such as Dr Brian Cox, Liz Bonnin and Dara O’Briain, have an influence on their interest in science and technology
  • Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Cullen and Steve Jobs were voted as the most popular inspirational entrepreneurs

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years