Bruton unveils plans to ramp up hi-tech sector
THE Government will bump up the number of places available on technology courses in universities and increase work permits for ICT professionals.
The moves are part of a plan to create an additional 44,500 jobs in the ICT sector by 2018.
A host of actions are set out in the Government's 2014 'ICT Action Plan' launched yesterday by Jobs Minister Richard Bruton and Education Minister Ruairi Quinn.
The plan was launched at a Dublin-based ICT company, Trilogy Technologies, which employs 50 people.
An extra 1,250 ICT undergraduate places will be made available annually from 2014, aimed at ensuring that three-quarters of job openings can be filled from the education system in this country within four years.
At present, just 60pc are filled by Irish residents. Chief executives from large technology multinationals like PayPal have been vocal about the shortage of skilled Irish ICT workers.
"It is essential we have a good pipeline of highly skilled graduates to meet the demands of industry," Mr Bruton said.
But the need for foreign workers is still recognised. An extra 2,000 work permits a year will be created for foreign ICT professionals in order to meet the demands of the industry. Recent Irish emigrants and European nationals will be prioritised. Career fairs will also be organised abroad to help companies recruit for Irish positions.
The second-level curriculum is also being targeted. New courses in digital media literacy, programming and coding will be introduced as part of the new Junior Cycle being rolled out to replace the Junior Certificate exams.
The first ICT action plan, published in 2012, introduced bonus points for students sitting higher maths at Leaving Certificate level. Student participation in the course has jumped by 58pc since then.
"Our ambition is to make Ireland the location for people with ICT skills to come to and develop their talent to have the most dynamic businesses located here," he said.