Govt to devise education strategy to win tech jobs

20 Jun 2011

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn are planning an “ambitious” response to the jobs needs of the ICT sector, Bruton said at the end of a tour of Silicon Valley, where he met include several top internet companies with household names.

Five out of 10 Silicon Valley giants have told Bruton that as well as corporate tax, globally competitive R&D tax credits, reduced costs and ultimately education, will swing job-making investment decisions.

The minister, who was on a whistle-stop tour of Silicon Valley to attract jobs investments, acknowledged there are as many as 2,500 vacancies at present in the Irish ICT industry and said he will work with Education Minister Quinn will to start an ambitious process of examining measures to respond to the future requirements of the ICT sector.

During the five-day tour, Bruton held individual meetings with 22 companies across a number of targeted sectors, including five of the top 10 technology companies in the US.

The companies he met include several top internet companies.

The 22 companies employ more than 350,000 people worldwide, with combined revenues of more than $230bn. They also include 13 companies which are present in Ireland already, employing 13,000 people in Ireland, as well as several companies which may be considering investing in the country for the first time.

Bruton met 15 technology companies, including several rapidly growing “new technology” companies which are characteristic of the new Silicon Valley boom.

He also met four leading US life sciences companies and companies in international services, entertainment and aviation.

Bruton announced 40 jobs with Aruba Networks in Cork during the trip and confirmed a number of further announcements are on the way in the coming weeks.

“By all indicators, the global technology industry, and in particular ICT, is experiencing a sustained period of impressive growth, and this creates major opportunities for Ireland,” Bruton said.

“I am determined, at this time of crisis, that we must be highly ambitious about the amount of jobs and investment we can attract to Ireland as part of this boom.

“I spent last week telling leading US companies at the highest level that Ireland is open for business, and the response I got was very positive.

The skills gap and new education strategies

“What these companies told me is that in addition to retaining our absolute commitment to our corporation tax rate, we must ensure that our R&D tax credit system is globally competitive, our cost base is right and that our education system is fit for the demands of the new economy.

“We have substantial work to do if we are to succeed in far-reaching goals. For example, it is estimated that there are currently approximately 2,500 vacancies in the ICT sector in Ireland.

“The minister for education and skills has recently announced over 2,000 one-year ICT training places as part of the Springboard programme from this September. However, we must also go beyond immediate needs, and I together with Minister Quinn will shortly start an ambitious process of examining measures we can take to respond to the future requirements of the ICT sector.

“Ireland is uniquely positioned to take advantage of the new technology boom and reap a huge reward for our economy. We achieved this before with the real Celtic Tiger of the mid- to late 1990s. I am determined that with hard work and ambitious policy changes we can do this again,” Bruton said.

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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