As our economy and society recovers from the significant impact and aftershocks of COVID-19, patterns and trends are emerging across the workforce and labour market. We must look at how we can address skills shortages.
Ireland is facing a multitude of skills shortages, in both sectors badly hit by the pandemic such as hospitality, but also in areas that many might consider to be robust, such as our tech sector.
Tech focused apprenticeships
“Ireland is one of the field leaders in the global tech industry. The digital transformation across the world of work over the last two years has fuelled further, fast growth, bringing even greater employment opportunities in Ireland within this sector,” says Andrew Brownlee, the Chief Executive of the Further Education and Training (FET) Authority in Ireland, SOLAS. The organisation oversees the FET sector and funds programmes throughout Education and Training Boards (ETBs) in every county in Ireland, including apprenticeships.
The traditional view of entry skills for the tech sector is that this should be a largely higher education domain – but this is now changing. Employers have begun to realise the benefits of more focused practical education relevant to their needs and a work-based learning approach, which lets them mould and develop new recruits from an early stage.
Courses are also available to provide pathways into these apprenticeships, including one solely focused on women.
Opportunities for all
“There are now three exciting tech apprenticeships delivered in partnership between FIT and the ETBs,” Brownlee says. “These are apprenticeships are in fields such as cybersecurity, software engineering and network development.
“Courses are also available to provide pathways into these apprenticeships, including one solely focused on women, as well as a whole range of other offerings to take you into this exciting sector. This includes the recent development of a Cloud Computing Traineeship which is the result of a partnership between Microsoft and Mayo Sligo Leitrim ETB. Work-based learning models like this allow our tech companies to shape and develop their staff to meet their rapidly evolving needs.”
Future work and skills need
In a move that signals the necessity for harmony and parity between further and higher education, information about both FET and apprenticeships were made available through the CAO platform for the first time for 2022 school leavers.
PLC courses and apprenticeships accommodate the diverse aptitudes and interests of young people more comprehensively. A wide range of apprenticeships is now available – including those in digital, engineering, biopharma as well as construction trades, which might surprise students and their parents.