Concerns over dwindling job opportunities available to technology graduates are being tackled through a new jobs initiative launched by ICT Ireland in association with the Institution of Engineers of Ireland (IEI).
The ICT Ireland Graduate Placement Programme will provide over 100 job placements for people who hold a degree/masters qualification in ICT-related engineering or computer science disciplines. Placements will be available across a range of ICT companies and in different parts of the country.
Twenty-two organisations have signed up for the programme including Apple, Analog Devices, Dell, Eircom, Medialab Europe, Symantec, Sun Microsystems, SAP, Vodafone and Xerox. They can begin taking on graduates immediately but it expected that most would be hired after the summer.
In addition to providing much-needed work experience, it is hoped that the programme will encourage graduates to stay in the technology sector. Peter Langford, president of the IEI, said the programme should help address the concerns of students considering ICT and relevant engineering courses at third level.
Speaking at the launch of the programme Tim McCarthy, chairman of the ICT Ireland Education Working Group said the initiative recognises the growing concern in the high tech sector in Ireland about our declining skills base. McCarthy noted that the global sector throughout the world would eventually recover and Ireland needed to be prepared for this. “It is vitally important,” he said, “that Ireland is in a position to meet this improved environment however, there are concerns that we will have insufficient skilled workers.”
ICT Ireland has previously stated its deep concern over the fall in the number of students taking science and technology courses, not only at third level but also at second. In 2001 only 12pc of Leaving Certificate students were enrolled in Chemistry and 16pc in Physics. This compares to 1990 when 16pc took Chemistry and 20pc took Physics.
“The implications of the decline in science at all levels could seriously undermine the future of the ICT sector in Ireland,” McCarthy emphasised. “One of the key reasons for foreign based companies choosing Ireland as a base is our reputation in having a young well educated work force with high IT skills. This competitive advantage is now in danger of being eroded and we must take action now if we are to retain our attractiveness as a location of choice for foreign-based companies.”
By Brian Skelly