Decline in students choosing ICT courses cause for concern

Technology Ireland, the Ibec group that represents the sector, says it is concerned at the 11% decline at level 8 and level 6/7 for Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) courses as first preferences at a time when total CAO applications fell by 4.2%.

Responding to the CAO application data, Una Fitzpatrick, Director of Technology Ireland said: “While it is positive to see marginally more students taking Higher Level mathematics and engineering subjects at Leaving Certificate, this is failing to translate into more students choosing ICT related courses as their first preference.

‘’Whereas the demand for tech talent is a global issue there is a need in Ireland for an integrated triple play strategy to deliver top talent. The economy needs initiatives for: secondary and higher education, further education and alternative pathways and attracting top talent to Ireland. Technology Ireland looks forward to Minister Bruton publishing the third ICT Skills Action plan as soon as possible so that these initiatives can be implemented.

“Demand is strong across a wide range of tech disciplines with 12,000 current vacancies in the sector, offering quality job opportunities at entry, competent, as well as expert levels. Over 130,000 people are now employed in tech related sectors of the economy. More tech companies in Ireland, both foreign and indigenous, are embracing key drivers of change such as Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), cloud-based technologies, etc. These digital technologies have potential in all industrial sectors to enhance productivity and performance. Therefore, this is a business issue for all sectors of the economy not just the tech sector.

“While Technology Ireland is concerned at the fall in numbers choosing ICT courses through the CAO we are positive about the alternative pathways into the sector such as conversion courses and the new Tech Apprenticeship from FIT (Fastrack into Information Technology). The pilot phase of the new Computer Science for Leaving Certificate course begins in September and this is also welcomed by industry as a step in the right direction.

“Since 2011, a staggering 34,500 jobs have been announced by technology companies in Ireland – large and small, indigenous and multinational. Tech Apprenticeships are now seeing real traction and are a solid example of what modern apprenticeships can achieve. Graduates will display robust technical skills coupled with entrepreneurship and business savvy, acquired through direct and sustained work experience.”

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