A new government report has announced targets to deliver more than 47,000 graduates with high level ICT skills by 2022.
Technology Skills 2022: Ireland’s Third ICT Skills Action Plan sets out priority actions to meet Ireland’s needs for graduates skilled in computing and electronic and electrical engineering to support and drive economic performance over the coming years.
The plan is informed by research conducted by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN).
Technology Skills 2022: Ireland’s Third ICT Skills Action Plan is a collaborative effort by Government, the education and training system and industry to meet Ireland’s high level ICT skills needs.
The Irish Computer Society, represented by ICS Deputy CEO Mary Cleary is one of a number of key industry stakeholders, government agencies and state-supported bodies involved in the development of the Action Plan. ICS is also part of the EGFSN research group.
"The report has a key focus on increasing female participation which is something we are doing a lot to target through projects like TechWeek and Women4IT. The Third Level Computing Forum chaired by ICS Fellow Ted Parslow is also a keen promoter in this area," said Mary.
The ambitious targets in the plan will increase the total number of graduates with high-level ICT skills by more than 5,000 every year by 2022.
Before the introduction of this plan it was intended to increase the number of graduates annually, from across the education and training system, to 9,230 by 2022 - an increase of 1,800.
The interventions outlined in Technology Skills 2022 will now provide a further 3,200 graduates every year by 2022 – meaning more than 12,450 people will graduate in high-level ICT Skills areas in 2022.
Some of the measures to grow graduate numbers include:
Programmes will target areas of high demand and high potential growth, including Artificial Intelligence, Robotics, Animation, Gaming, Blockchain, Internet of Things, 3D Printing, Augmented and Virtual Reality, Cybersecurity/Next Generation Security. The successful model of partnership with industry on many programmes will continue.
Ted Parslow, Chair of the Third Level Computing Forum said, "the ICT Skills Action Plan highlights that ‘Retention rates on ICT degree programmes have improved from 81% in 2010/2011 to 84% for the 2014/2015 student entry cohort.’ This is in sharp contrast to the figures in the recently published Analysis of Completion in Irish Higher Education: 2007/08 Entrants. It is worth noting that the HEA report was for the 2007/2008 cohort and that although our retention figures have improved considerably it is an area we must continue to focus on."
"Similarly the HEA 2019 Graduate Outcomes Survey identified ICT graduates as one of the four top occupations both for graduates in full-time employment and salary level which is also a good indicator for future skills-needs projections, " continued Ted.
Launching the action plan at Pramerica in Letterkenny, Co Donegal, Minister McHugh said: “Our ability to produce, attract and retain graduates with high-level ICT skills is vital to our future economic performance.
“Technology Skills 2022 sets out a programme for co-operation between the education and training sector and industry which will ensure that we have the skillsets in place to drive development both within the technology sector and, given the fundamental nature of technology, across the wider economy.
“The education and training sector has responded strongly to demand for high-level ICT skills, with a 70% increase in the numbers of graduates with degree level qualifications over the past six years.
“This plan will support targeted funding to help the sector, once again, deliver on Ireland’s skills needs – with a target of up to 12,500 graduates per annum by 2022.”
The EGFSN report found that the demand for high-level ICT skills are forecast to grow, driven by strong market demand and the spread of digitalisation across all sectors of the economy.
The number of job openings for high-level ICT professionals is set to reach 18,000 a year by 2022.
Additionally, the recruitment of ICT professionals from overseas will contribute to the supply of the needed high-level skills in Ireland and to support the rapid pace of technological change expected over the coming years.
Minister Humphreys said: “The continued development and attraction of an adequate pipeline of high level ICT professionals is not just an issue confined to the technology sector, but a national economic priority.
“Every industry requires the skillsets necessary to deploy and exploit emerging technologies and functions. This plan, which is an excellent example of collaboration between Government and industry, will be crucial to maintaining and advancing the competitiveness and confidence in Irish-based enterprise both domestically and in global markets in the years ahead.”
Tech Skills 2022 was developed through collaboration between the Department of Education and Skills and the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, with input from the education and training sector, State agencies and industry.
Minister McHugh added: “Government, the education and training sector and industry must work together to realise the ambition of Technology Skills 2022. I am confident that through collaboration we can drive the implementation of this plan and achieve the target set.”
Technology Skills 2022: Ireland’s Third ICT Skills Action Plan can be accessed at the following link - https://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/technology-skills-2022.pdf
The ICT sector is of vital strategic importance in Ireland, both in terms of the numbers of highly skilled professionals employed and its significant contribution to export performance, accounting for more than €35 billion per annum. Skills growth in the sector has been supported to date by two ICT Skills Action Plans dating 2012-2014 and 2014-2018. Actions under these plans have resulted in the delivery of more than 7,400 high-level ICT graduates, and the attraction of more than 4,000 skilled individuals from outside the EU/EEA, on an annual basis.
Technology Skills 2022: Ireland’s Third ICT Skills Action Plan 2019-2022
Technology Skills 2022: Ireland’s Third ICT Skills Action Plan sets out actions to further expand provision from the education and training system to deliver an additional 3,200 high-level ICT graduates per annum over and above the existing planned increase in provision to 2022.
This means that there will be 5,000 more graduates with high-level ICT skills graduating every year by 2022, allowing Ireland to meet up to 70% of annual expected demand from our own education and training system.
The momentum generated through the two previous plans will be maintained, while also introducing a suite of new, impactful actions that will maintain Ireland’s status as a global leader for the development and attraction of high-level ICT talent and skills.
Technology Skills 2022 will place a strategic focus on fully utilising the range of learning opportunities available across the education and training system to meet high-level ICT skill needs by:-
Funding for the Action Plan will be allocated from the resources available to the Department of Education and Skills, which includes the National Training Fund and the Human Capital Initiative from 2020.
Overall implementation will be overseen by a High-Level Steering Group chaired by the Department of Education and Skills, with senior representation from the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation, and composed of representatives from Government Departments, Agencies, industry and Education and Training Providers.
Expert Group on Future Skills Needs Skills Demand Forecast 2017 to 2022
In order to underpin the development of a new ICT Skills Action Plan, the EGFSN updated its 2013 ICT skills demand forecast. It examined the demand for high-level ICT skills in Ireland over the five-year period 2017 to 2022, within both the broad ICT sector as well as other sectors of the economy.
The central scenario set out in the EGFSN’s study projected that the high growth ICT skills scenario set out in 2013 will not just be maintained, but will accelerate in the coming years. The forecasted CAGR in ICT skills demand of 8.5% will increase the demand for high-level ICT professionals from 85,000 in 2018 to 139,000 by 2022, relating to all sectors of the economy.
The EGFSN skills demand forecast - Forecasting the Future Demand for High-Level ICT Skill in Ireland, 2017-2022 - predicts a continued healthy ICT market, driving an increase in demand resulting in a potential of up to 73,000 job openings for high-level ICT Skills over the period 2018-2022.
Annual job openings are forecast to increase from 11,594 in 2018 to 17,795 per annum by 2022.