CAO figures could indicate growing ICT skills gap

Last week, Technology Ireland released a statement regarding the decline of Leaving Certificate students choosing ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) courses for their third-level journeys. According to the CAO, there has been a 11% decline in the number of students who opted for ICT courses.

Whatever the reasons for this decline, it comes at a time when Ireland most needs tech staff. There are 130,000 people employed in the Irish tech industry. Currently, there are more than 12,000 vacancies for all skill levels.
There has been a massive jump in the numbers employed in the tech industry. 34,500 new ICT jobs have been announced since 2011. Each month, companies are announcing new tech jobs, between multinational and Irish companies.

In one sense, the decline is surprising, considering the high salaries being achieved by tech staff, as well as the fact that this is a highly innovative industry. It’s also surprising considering the fact that tech is becoming more important for all industries.

CAO Application decline may add to the gap

This decline in CAO applications may add to the current gap in the tech industry. However, there is an increase in the number of alternative courses available to upskillers and career changers. Current employees are realising the advantage of understanding tech for their own roles – regardless of the industry they are in. Many are also capitalising on the skills gap and moving to the tech industry completely.

Una Fitzpatrick, Director of Technology Ireland, commented on the figures. “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.”

“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 the 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.”

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