Education Minister announces 760 ICT graduate skills conversion places

1 Feb 2013

Some 760 new college places in ICT graduate skills conversion courses have been announced by Ireland’s Education Minister Ruairí Quinn, TD.

The 760 new places bring to almost 6,000 the number of higher education places the Department of Education and Skills has provided on ICT reskilling programmes since 2011.

Courses are free, full-time and intensive. Given the nature and intensity of the conversion programme, applicants must have already have a level 8 or equivalent qualification. Applications from unemployed job seekers are particularly welcome, the department said.

Under the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs, the first phase of the initiative started last March with the provision of more than 700 free places on intensive ICT graduate conversion programmes, has been designed and delivered in partnership with industry. The majority of participants from the first phase are now completing work placements with industry partners and will be available to take up offers of employment over the next few months.

As part of Budget 2013, Quinn announced €5m would be made available from the National Training Fund to support a second phase of this initiative, which is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. 

“I am very pleased to announce that more than 760 new places are being made available on 15 individual programmes in higher education institutions across the country,” Quinn said this morning.  

“This Government is committed to increasing the supply of high-level ICT skills and to supporting job seekers into employment by providing opportunities for graduates from other disciplines to reskill for the expanding employment opportunities in the ICT area,” he added.

Full details of the 15 ICT conversion programmes are available online. Applications for the programmes can be submitted online from next week.

Una Halligan, chair of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, said, “Building a sustainable talent base of high-level skills for the ICT sector and other sectors is of strategic economic importance to Ireland. I very much welcome the provision of these places on the second phase of the ICT skills conversion programme. 

“This is a win-win programme – providing an additional supply of ICT professionals aligned to ICT skills needs in businesses as identified by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and Forfás, and an opportunity for qualified job seekers to convert to a sector with rewarding career prospects,” Halligan said.

A powerful signal to international investors in Ireland

The news of the 760 new places for graduates has been welcomed by IBEC bodies ICT Ireland and the Irish Software Association (ISA). Director Paul Sweetman said: “The technology sector in Ireland is thriving. In the past three years, over 13,700 jobs have been announced by the sector. With the top 10 global technology companies having a significant presence here and a substantial indigenous software sector, Ireland continues to be a powerhouse for technology.

“With this growth comes demand for skilled, innovative graduates and employees. To address this demand, ICT Ireland and ISA members worked closely with Government departments to develop the ICT action plan. The conversion courses announced today represent the latest iteration of the ICT action plan. All of the courses announced have a significant level of industry involvement, be it though the development of the programmes and/or industry placement as part of the course.

“Not only do these courses form part of the solution to addressing the skills demand in the technology sector, the initiative sends a powerful signal to international investors that Ireland is moving nimbly and effectively in addressing major industry needs,” Sweetman said.

Graduate job seeker image via Shutterstock

The issue of tapping into future skills pipelines to support the ICT and other growing industries in Ireland will be discussed at Silicon Republic’s Future Jobs Forum on 8 February in Dublin

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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