Numbers on tech courses up, but warnings remain

12 Mar 2003

ICT Ireland, the technology division of IBEC, has welcomed new figures which show an increase in applications for technology courses.

Figures from the Central Applications Office (CAO) show that 7pc more students are applying for degree courses in engineering/technology-related subjects.

However, in overall terms there was a slight decline in these courses as a percentage of all applications this year.

In a statement the body said the figures were “extremely encouraging”.

However, it added that that there was a danger that complacency could now set in and that necessary reform measures required within the education sector would be ignored.

The CAO figures on first preference applications show an increase in students applying for engineering/technology-related degree courses, reversing the trend of 2002 which showed a 24pc decline.

The CAO found that technology courses accounted for a total of 14.2pc of all applications in 2002 compared to 14pc this year. ICT Ireland also points out that at 7,736 applications in 2003, the figures are considerably less than those of 2001 when 9,423 first preference applications were received for engineering/technology courses.

Chairman of ICT Ireland’s education group Tim McCarthy said: “a fundamental review of Ireland’s education policies is necessary as the ICT sector in Ireland will suffer significant skill shortages over the next five years.”

He said, however, that the ICT sector throughout the world will, in the not-too-distant future, experience an upturn in demand.

“It is vitally important that Ireland is in a position to meet this improved environment. However, there are concerns that we will have insufficient skilled workers. The report by the government-based Expert Group on Future Skills Needs estimates that in the ICT sector there will be an annual shortfall of about 2,500 professionals and 800 technicians between 2002 and 2005.”

By Suzanne Byrne