Free tech courses set to meet job demand

Most of the 1,000 vacancies in the hi-tech industry can be filled by graduates of free courses announced by the Government and employers yesterday.

With the world’s 10 biggest names in technology, including Google and Facebook, already based in Ireland and Adobe announcing an expansion of its operations last week, the move is part of a wider plan to ensure people are available for future jobs growth.

The 17 courses, offering 750 places, will include 12-week placements with top employers in the international information and communications technology (ICT) sector in Ireland, including Google, Ericsson, EMC, Microsoft, IBM, Cisco and Dell, as well as bookmakers Paddy Power and leaders in healthcare, recruitment, electronic media and many other sectors with strong ICT requirements.

The courses form part of a joint plan between Government and industry to help provide the 2,000 to 3,000 graduates a year necessary to sustain the kind of jobs growth seen here in the last year. The sector announced 80 jobs a week in the past year, but many employers complain of a shortage of suitably qualified applicants.

Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said providing the right skills at the right time for the right jobs is essential for economic recovery.

Jobs Minister Richard Bruton said the plan aims to see annual ICT graduate numbers double to 2,000 by 2018. Martin Shanahan, chairman of enterprise advisory board Forfás, said that, with demand for 2,500 computing and electronic engineers a year, the measures will ensure recruitment difficulties do not become a persistent feature of the Irish enterprise landscape.

The courses cover areas such as cloud computing, mobile software development, web technology and multimedia programming, and will be run from March in Athlone, Cork, Dublin, Dundalk, Galway and Limerick.

Other elements of the plan bonus college entry points for higher level Leaving Certificate maths, a work placement programme in ICT companies for 100 transition year students, and a range of improvements to teacher training for maths.

Meanwhile, the number of Irish students applying for British university courses fell 19% to 5,434, according to figures from Ucas, the British equivalent of the Central Applications Office.

The deadline for CAO applications is tomorrow evening, but the number who availed of a reduced fee by applying before an 20 was up 2,730 on last year to almost 54,500.

The trend is most likely in response to increased tuition fees in England, Wales and the North to £9,000 (almost €10,800), which prompted an overall drop in Ucas applications by 7%.

* Details of the ICT Skills Programme are available at www.bluebrick.ie

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