Ibec has warned Ireland’s below average investment in education will threaten the country’s reputation.
The representative body for business was responding to the Education at a Glance report, which found Ireland ranked last of almost 40 OECD countries in terms of the proportion national wealth it spent on education.
The 3.3pc of GDP devoted to education in Ireland in 2018 compared with an average of 4.9pc in OECD developed world countries and an EU average of 4.4
The annual report compares education systems in 38 OECD countries, as well as Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Indonesia, the Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
Ibec’s head of education and innovation policy, Claire McGee, expressed concern that investment in education was not keeping pace with competitor economies and said that Ireland could not afford to be complacent.
“For Ireland to rank below average with peer economies in terms of investment is troubling and will threaten our reputation for talent and innovation.
“This underinvestment is not economically sustainable or socially desirable. The major concern is that this is an invisible crisis, and we won’t know or experience the direct impact until it is too late,” she said.
Ms McGee also noted that on spend per student, Ireland stood at 20th in the OECD, 4pc below the EU average and significantly below peer economies.
She warned that “with a growing student population and increasing demands on our education system, scaling investment in quality and more relevant education and training is critical.”
Ms McGee said the global battle for labour, skills and innovation was certain to intensify in the decade ahead and Ireland could “only compete successfully for business investment if we have a talent and innovation base that measures up with the best in the world.”
She said the forthcoming Budget must prioritise investment across the continuum of education from early years to higher and further education, apprenticeship, and lifelong learning.
Ibec is calling on Government to increase spending on education and skills by €130m for 2022.