The Irish Computer Society (ICS) has heralded resurgence in demand for science and technology courses in third level amongst this year’s Leaving Certificate graduates stating their preference in the first rounds offers from the Central Applications Office (CAO). Last year, universities and colleges were dogged by a decline in demand, with some institutions dropping certain technology courses.
Following a two year downturn and negative media coverage of the tech sector fuelled by redundancies and company closures, students and their parents’ perception of careers and science declined greatly and last year on average, the admission level for IT courses fell by 75 points. At the time the ICS cited the situation as a “grave threat to the IT industry.”
However, this afternoon the ICS cited a rise in demand for science and technology courses, indicating renewed confidence in the sector. For example, information and communications technology in Trinity College rose by 50 points, computer engineering in the University of Limerick also gained 20 points, whilst electronic engineering in DCU rose by 45 points.
“We’re delighted to see an increase in the number of students applying for science and technology courses. However, in order to safeguard the future of the IT industry in Ireland, we intend to renew our efforts to educate young people on the many opportunities open to them should they choose a career in IT,” said Jim Friars, chief executive at the ICS.
“We look forward to welcoming many of them as student members of the ICS so that they can both benefit from, and contribute to, the growth of the profession in Ireland,” Friars added.
The ICS has made a significant effort over the past year to encourage second level students to give full consideration to a career in IT. Since the launch of the ChooseIT initiative by Minister of Education Noel Dempsey last year, the ICS has spoken directly to second level students across Ireland and provided over 700 schools with information on the benefits of a career in the IT industry.
The ICS also created a website (www.chooseit.ie) for students to explore specific job roles and encourage them to investigate their own talents and working preferences. The ICS also founded a ChooseIT third level working group, with representatives from the third level sector, guidance counsellors and the IT industry, to encourage all stakeholders in IT education to work together to address the problem of falling third level IT applications.
The second phase of ChooseIT is about to be launched with the start of the new school year and the same determination will be demonstrated by the ICS to highlight the opportunities that students can avail of to have a fulfilling career in IT. The IT industry stands to benefit enormously by this reversal in the trend of opting out of technology at third level.
It is hoped that a renewed effort on the part of the ChooseIT campaign, with a range of new interventions will further increase the number of students who can avail of the rewarding and lucrative careers which the IT sector can offer.
By John Kennedy