A current shortage in Irish computer graduates means that half the vacancies in companies here are being filled by foreign graduates. To tackle this problem, the government have launched a new ICT Skills Action Plan in order to meet the needs of employers in the hi-tech industry. Leading software scientist, Professor Brian Fitzgerald, said that Irish students need to be taught the right skills instead of technology fads.
Over the next four years, 44,500 positions are expected to open up that will require high-level computer skills and as a response to this, many colleges have begun to offer more computing courses. By 2018, Ireland is set to be producing around 2,400 honours degree computing graduates, double the current figures.
However, in a recent interview with the Irish Independent, Professor Fitzgerald criticised these courses, saying that many have only been re-branded to make them appear more attractive, while employers encouraged colleges to supply courses in the latest technology fad.
Mr. Fitzgerald is the chief scientist at Lero, the Irish Software Engineering Research Centre and has worked in the software industry both in Ireland and abroad for the past 15 years. He said that there needs to be an approach that combines the basics with high-level skills.
By comparing trends here with what was happening in Eastern Europe and former Soviet bloc countries, he saw that, unlike Ireland, these countries courses tended to be more traditional and did not cover the latest technology trends. Through his research, Professor Fitzgerald found these graduates were able to adapt to changing needs by having good fundamental skills and languages such as Java.
Ireland currently meets 60% of the demand for ICT professionals and this figure is up from 45% in 2011. Under the new ICT Skills Action Plan, the Government aim to increase the supply of Irish educated computing graduates to 74% by 2018.
The plan sets out a new initiatives such as an 1,250 additional college places every year and measures to reduce drop-out rates on computing courses. The plan also aims to increase primary and secondary school students’ interest in IT careers and another round of ICT skills conversion courses will be offered. Since 2012, there have been around 2,000 graduates from these programmes.
Author: Fiona McBennett