Saturday 18 November 2017

Skill seekers put colleges under pressure

Katherine Donnelly

Katherine Donnelly

RISING demand from school-leavers and the unemployed for a third-level qualification will put colleges under unprecedented strain, a new report warns.

Already this year, CAO applications have rocketed to over 77,000 -- up almost 10,000 in two years.

But a degree or a higher qualification is the best hope of having and holding a job, the report from the Expert Group of Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) says.

The report found that 85pc of 25- to 34-year-olds with a degree or higher were working at the end of 2009.

EGFSN chairperson Una Halligan said: "The overwhelming message is that further education creates opportunities."

The EGFSN report tracks the rise in education levels in Ireland, with a total of 200,000 third-level awards -- from Post Leaving Certificates (PLC) to PhDs -- in the 2008/09 year, up 2pc on the previous year.

While the proportion receiving degrees remained stable at 31pc, other post-graduate awards were up 4pc, while PhDs rose almost 50pc between 2004 and 2008.

The largest increase -- some 20pc -- was for qualifications awarded by the Further Education and Training Awards Council (FETAC) such as PLCs, reflecting the collapse of the job market for school-leavers in the recession.

Acceptances for college places through the CAO rose by 6,500 between 2006 and 2009, and are up 6pc annually.

The expert group also noted signs of a welcome uplift in popularity in key "smart economy" disciplines.

These include technology, computing science and engineering.

Irish Independent

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