Tech industry needs to sell itself better – ICS

23 Aug 2005

While the technology courses on offer in Irish third-level institutions are increasingly in tune with the requirements of industry, more needs to be done to promote computing as a career to school-leavers, the head of the Irish Computer Society (ICS) has said.

Speaking to following the release of the first-round offers from the Central Applications Office (CAO) yesterday, Jim Friars, chief executive of the ICS, said there was still too a narrow perception of what a career in IT involves and this needed to be remedied. “The ICS has begun to communicate the diverse nature of IT careers with students and hopefully they are starting to understand that IT is not just about doing a programming course. If they decide to do an IT degree it’s a platform for them to understand the backbone of what drives businesses, be they public or private,” said Friars.

Friars said the ICS was looking to create a “common agenda” with employers body IBEC and third-level colleges to effectively communicate with students so they would understand the real job requirements of industry.

Noting there seemed to be “a match between industry requirements and courses being offered”, Friars welcomed the recent creation of a number of new niche technology courses that reflect the expected growth hotspots of the ICT industry over the coming years, citing Music Technology at NUI Maynooth and Computer Games Development at Carlow Institute of Technology as examples.

Commenting on this year’s point requirements for ICT courses, Friars cautioned against reading too much into the fact that demand for these courses still apparently lags well behind medicine, pharmacy and other much sought-after courses. “If you look at the percentage of IT-related courses in the CAO, the points requirements are going to be lower on average because there are far more places available on these courses,” he pointed out.

By Brian Skelly