Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills his plans to improve the practical skills of third level graduates in the information communications technology sector before they enter the workplace.
Reply from Minister Ruairí Quinn: Work placements have a key role to play in helping students to develop the practical work place skills required by employers. In recent years higher education institutions have expanded the work placement opportunities available to students in ICT and other disciplines and the National Strategy for Higher Education recommends further expanding work placement and service learning opportunities across higher education programmes.
The joint Government-Industry Action Plan, which I launched in January 2012, contains a comprehensive, system wide response aimed at building the supply of high quality ICT graduates. As part of the Plan almost 1,500 places have been provided for graduate jobseekers on intensive honours degree level ICT conversion courses. The courses, which are designed and delivered in partnership with industry, all contain a structured work placement.
The Action Plan also provided for the establishment of a high level Academic Industry Foresight Group chaired by the Chair of HEA and with strong high level industry membership. The Group, which was established in January 2012, has a work programme to review existing provision and ensure that third level ICT programme development is aligned to enterprise skills needs.