Institutes of technology (IoTs) play a key role in both creating and sustaining jobs in their regions.
Companies, whether domestic or multi-nationals, are attracted to particular regions because of the pipeline of graduates turned out by local institutes of technology.
The institutes work closely with enterprise to meet their skills needs and the colleges provide a range of programmes at different levels from higher national certificate to degree level and on to master's and, in some cases, doctorate levels. A number of institutes cater for craft apprentices providing the educational component of their preparation for the work place.
The institutes are also helping to advance knowledge and drive innovation through cutting-edge research activity often linked directly to providing solutions to key challenges faced by local industry.
Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) President Maria Hinfelaar spoke at a recent graduation ceremony of the increasing number of companies deciding to set up operations in the city and in the wider region. This was shown by the spate of jobs announcements by multinational players such as Regeneron, Optel Vision, Vistakon, Northern Trust, Ethikon and more.
"We are in constant communication with these companies and were involved at an early stage when they were weighing up the pros and cons of coming here.
"We work closely with the IDA in that regard, and we know how crucial the provision of education, training and research is in the decision-making process. Obviously, the availability of suitable locations and whatever corporation tax arrangements is the business of others, but it is our role to talk to them about their skills needs and what LIT and yourselves as our graduates have to offer.
"These companies are creating direct employment in their own fields, whether it is science, engineering, financial services or IT. But they are also creating jobs indirectly in ancillary services and through their wider social and economic impact. Other sectors such as hospitality, retailing, construction and the arts will benefit," she said.
It is a story echoed elsewhere as other institutes help to attract inward investment.
In response to global concerns regarding food security a variety of national and international agencies and policies are promoting growth in aquaculture production, often referred to as fish farming. Aquaculture presents Europe with an opportunity to reduce dependence on imported seafood and provides Ireland with an opportunity to enhance our seafood exports both within the EU and to developing markets worldwide. The Irish salmon aquaculture industry is estimated to be worth approximately €72m a year to the economy, with more than 2,000 people employed primarily in coastal communities.