Continued demand for people with ICT skills across the Irish economy could generate 44,500 new job openings over the next six years, according to Forfás and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs.
A new report Addressing Future Demand for High-Level ICT Skills forecasts the demand for high-level ICT skills up to 2018.
In 2012, there were 68,280 ICT professionals working within the ICT sector and across other sectors of the economy. The report forecasts that there will be increased demand of, on average, 5pc per annum for these high-level ICT skills up to 2018, increasing the employment of ICT professionals to 91,000.
In order to achieve the jobs potential, the report notes that all potential policy levers will need to continue to be utilised to increase high-level ICT skills supply.
These include mainstream education and training, conversion and reskilling programmes, continuing professional development and attracting experienced international talent, including expatriate talent.
The report recommends that additional iterations of the conversion programmes from 2014 and beyond will be essential to contribute to meeting the increasing demand. In just over one year, an investment of €10m by the Department of Education and Skills has delivered more than 1,500 places on industry-designed ICT conversion programmes. These programmes provide graduates from other disciplines the opportunity to pursue new careers in ICT and provides industry access to a new pool of talented graduates with up-to-date ICT qualifications.
The output of computer graduates in Ireland has increased by 25pc over the last two years and a doubling of graduate output is now expected to be achieved by 2015 – three years ahead of the Government’s Action Plan for Jobs target of 2018. This comes as a result of the implementation of the Government ICT Skills Action Plan which is a collaboration between Government, Industry and the education system.
“Just under two years ago, when Minister (for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard) Bruton and I launched the ICT Skills Action Plan, it was estimated that the domestic supply of ICT talent was meeting about 45pc of the skills demand of industry,” said Education Minister Ruairi Quinn, TD.
“As a result of the measures we have taken under the plan, it is now projected that the supply of graduates from the education system will meet 63pc of demand in 2014.
“The implementation of key reforms at primary and secondary level, allied to the introduction of bonus points for maths, is also building the mathematical proficiency of students entering third level, which is critical to ensuring a strong supply of graduates for all STEM roles. This is evident in the almost 60pc increase in the honours-level maths take up at Leaving Cert level, over the last three years.
“This report provides a very timely input to the review of the ICT Action Plan, which my department is undertaking jointly with the Department of Jobs Enterprise and Innovation,” Quinn said.
Bruton added: “The ICT sector is of strategic importance to Ireland, both in terms of the numbers of jobs and its contribution to Ireland’s export performance, accounting for €70bn in exports per annum. ICT skills are already a key focus of the Action Plan for Jobs.
“This report will further sustain the effort to ensure Ireland has the necessary skills to meet the opportunity that this sector offers for jobs and growth,” Bruton said.
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