The twin objectives of promoting the excellent career prospects which exist in Ireland’s Information Communications Technology (ICT) sector and ensuring that the country has a highly skilled workforce were underlined today (21 May 2002) at the launch of the ‘Change of Mind’ Awareness Campaign.
The campaign is co-sponsored by ICT Ireland and The Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and is aimed at encouraging leaving certificate students to avail of their Central Applications Office (CAO) Change of Mind form before the closing date of July 1 and apply for one of the many courses which provide a route to this sector.
The ICT career categories cover computing, engineering and technology and recent figures released by the CAO show a 25% decline in the numbers of students applying for courses in these areas.
Announcing details of the campaign, the chairman of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs , Dr. Danny O’ Hare said there was a widespread misunderstanding, by both students and parents, of both the nature of these career areas, and their future capacity for growth.
“I would ask parents of leaving certificate students, that when advising them of the choices available, to consider the excellent medium-long term growth prospects for these industries as evidenced by the recent job announcements by companies such as Intel, Oracle, Microsoft and EDS,” he said.
Dr O’ Hare continued by stating that the starting salaries for technology graduates were as good, if not better, than other sectors and that many went on to become senior managers.
Speaking at the launch, the executive director of Forfas said that today’s leaving certificate students were looking for courses which will lead to a varied and interesting lifestyle.
“ICT courses can, in many cases, offer the possibility of living and working abroad, employment with non-IT companies such as the banks, as well as a range of progression routes. There are many entries to qualification in ICT studies, as well as many opportunities to progress from certificate to degree courses, in both the Institutes of Technology and the universities. In addition, many IT companies subsidise their employee’s further tuition fees,” he said.
Mr Brendan Butler, the director of ICT Ireland, said that Ireland’s continued economic growth depended upon its ability to generate a constant supply of skilled graduates.
“We expect a shortfall of three thousand ICT professionals each year for the next five years. It is an imperative that a sector with over 1,000 companies and 100,000 employees be replenished with fresh graduates on an annual basis and I note that the government has already committed €15 million to address the shortfall ,” he said.
Dr. O’ Hare concluded the launch by stating that science and technology was becoming increasingly influential in shaping the future of Irish industry.
“ It is vital that Ireland can compete successfully with its international competitors. As a nation we have always prided ourselves on being at the leading edge of technological innovation, therefore our role in supporting the Change of Mind Awareness Campaign is a natural way to reinforce that commitment by working in partnership with educationalists and the government to ensure that this vital sector of the economy continues to benefit from a steady influx of highly skilled graduates,” he said.