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IT skills and languages will increase jobseeker employment prospects

Posted by Francis O' Toole on August 27, 2013

Strong Demand for High-Level ICT Skills

A forthcoming report from the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs highlights continuing strong demand from enterprise for high-level ICT skills, both within the ICT sector and across other sectors of the economy. The study forecasts the demand for high-level computing and electronic and electrical engineering skills over the next five years.

The ICT sector is of strategic importance to the Irish economy both in terms of the numbers of high-skilled professionals employed (an estimated 68,280 ICT professionals in 2012) and its significant contribution to Irish exports performance – accounting for almost €70 billion per annum.

The availability of high-level ICT skills plays a key role in the competitiveness of domestic and multinational ICT enterprises and maintaining Ireland’s attractiveness to FDI. The report makes a series of recommendations aimed at increasing the quantity and quality of high-level ICT skills.

Continuing Importance of Foreign Languages

The EGFSN report Key Skills for Enterprise to Trade Internationally, published in June 2012, highlighted the importance of foreign language skills as an essential skillset for future employment opportunities in an increasingly globalised labour market.

The National Skills Bulletin 2013 continues to report skills shortages across a number of occupations, and multilingual skills are a key aspect of some of these shortages. Whilst in 2010 and 2011 the multilingual skills shortages were confined to telesales and clerks and cashiers, in 2012 and 2013 the shortages had extended across a far wider range of occupations. The report indicates shortages of multilingual IT technicians, finance accounts managers, marketing associate professionals, financial administrators and some supply chain related occupations exist.

An improved supply of domestic foreign languages capability would act as a major boost to enterprises achieving their export potential and enhance Irelands’ proposition for foreign direct investment. The acquisition of foreign language capability would also increase jobseekers’ employment prospects.

Leaving Certification Higher Level Maths Participation Rate Remains Low

In 2012, the higher level participation rate amongst Leaving Certificate mathematics candidates increased to 22% (from 17% in 2008).  This increase may be attributable to the roll-out of Project Maths in addition to the introduction of bonus points. 2013 data reveals a continued increase in the take-up rate for higher level mathematics (up to 26%, the highest share to date).  Although the increased take-up is encouraging, the rate for maths remains well below the higher level participation rate of almost all other Leaving Certificate subjects which have rates of at least double, and in some cases almost triple, that of mathematics.

Despite a five percentage point increase between 2008 and 2012, fewer than half of mathematics candidates in the Junior Certificate examination sat the higher level paper, meaning that the pool of potential candidates for progressing to the higher level paper at Leaving Certificate in the short term remains small.

Maths is important as it underpins many other disciplines such as science, technology, business and finance. Ensuring an adequate supply of people proficient in maths is a fundamental requirement for the development of Ireland’s knowledge.

Source: EGFSN

Further information on the work of the EGFSN can be found at: www.skillsireland.ie

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