Answered on June 18, 2013
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.
Answered on May 28, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the additional measures he
proposes in order to increase the number of under-25-year-olds participating in vocational and technical education courses.
Deputy Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills the number of under-25-year-olds
enrolled in vocational and technical education courses for each of the past five years.
Replies from Minister of State, Ciarán Cannon: (I propose to take questions 296 and 297 together.) There is a strong focus on under 25 year olds in education and training programmes in my Department and support for these progammes is being maintained despite the current economic difficulties.
My Department funds the provision of over 430,000 part-time and full-time places across the further and higher education and training sectors, all of which are open to young people under 25 years of age.
This provision includes the recently developed and flexible re-skilling opportunities specifically for unemployed people in areas of emerging skills needs under Momentum initiatives. The introduction of the MOMENTUM programme will have a specific impact on young unemployed people. It is to provide a
range of quality, relevant education and training interventions for up to 6,500 individuals who are long-term unemployed. Training will be provided within the context of four themes all of which are open to under 25 year olds. One of these themes will focus on the specific needs of people under 25 and 800 places are being made available specifically for this.
For early school leavers, my Department funds 6,000 places under the Youthreach programme. The programme provides participants with two years integrated education, training and work experience. which facilitates early school leavers with opportunities to acquire certification and progress to further education, training or employment.
A weekly training allowance is paid to learners on some further education and training programmes. Learners who are under 25 will be paid an allowance of €160 per week, which is higher than the Jobseekers Allowance rates of €100 for those aged 18 to 21 and €144 for those aged 22 to 24.
The Back to Education Allowance (BTEA) scheme funded by the Department of Social Protection provides income maintenance for unemployed people returning to further and higher education. Latest figures show over 6,700 young people under 25 years of age are in receipt of the BTEA, 56% of whom are second level and 44% third level.
Statistics on the number of under 25s enrolled in further education and training programmes for each of the past five years is being collated at present and will be forwarded separately to the Deputy.
Answered on May 28, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation in relation to his Department’s monitoring of the South-East Employment Action Plan, the number of ideas have been funded in Waterford since its launch in January 2012; the amount of funding for Waterford ideas that have been awarded to-date.
Reply from Minister Richard Bruton: The South East Employment Action Plan has a number of recommendations which the relevant agencies and stakeholders are charged with implementing. The following are examples of agency funding provided to individuals or companies in Waterford and in the South East since January 2012 to develop new business ideas.
Enterprise Ireland’s New Frontiers Entrepreneur Development Programme is a rapid incubation programme designed to provide hands-on support and management development for entrepreneurs who wish to start their own business.
Twenty promoters were accepted on to the 2012 programmes run in Waterford IT and Carlow IT. All were approved a €15,000 scholarship from Enterprise Ireland to develop business ideas which can be spun out as knowledge based companies to provide jobs and export sales. Graduates are expected to go on to set up new businesses in the South East following the programme.
Enterprise Ireland launched a pilot Competitive Feasibility Fund for new start-ups in the South East in January 2012. Over 40 applications were received with 14 high quality projects being approved for funding. The total fund was approximately €200,000. To date, one of the projects has been approved High Potential Start Up funding. Enterprise Ireland continues to work with innovative start-up companies at all stages of development and growth within the region.
Since 2007, Enterprise Ireland has approved a total of 707 Innovation Vouchers to companies in the South East with 287 approved to Waterford based companies (as of March 2013). Waterford has the fourth highest number of approved vouchers since 2007.
In addition to the above, the Waterford County and the Waterford City Enterprise Boards have both continued to use the funding available under the European Globalisation Fund and from my Department to provide supports for micro-enterprises within the County. From the 1st January 2012 to date, the two CEBs have funded 51 projects in the amount of €865,270 from the funding allocated by my Department, supporting the creation of 98 jobs, and funded a further 6 other projects in the amount of €110,462 with the financial support provided by the European Globalisation Fund.
Work is on-going on the implementation of the South-East Employment Action Plan recommendations, with agencies and stakeholders working together to maximise benefits for the region. The South East Forum, established to oversee the implementation of the Action Plan, and which I met most recently in March this year, will continue to examine ways that would lead to job creation and investment opportunities in the South East.
Dáil Éireann allocates a certain amount of time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during which Deputies may ask questions of Members of the Government relating to Public Affairs connected with their Departments, or on matters of administration for whch they are officially responsible. The Taoiseach answers questions on his own Department on Tuesdays/Wednesdays.