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 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.
Thursday, 21 February, 2013
Deputy John Deasy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will expedite new technological universities in view of the fact that our intake of skilled ICT workers from overseas will increase from 700 to 1,900 in 2013.
Reply from Minister Ruairí Quinn:
As you are aware, I endorsed the framework for system development laid out in the National Strategy for Higher Education to 2030 which outlines a developmental pathway towards designation as a Technological University for merged institutes of technology who seek to apply. The implementation process of this is well underway.
The Landscape document published in February 2012 lays out a clear four stage process and criteria for institutes of technology who wish to apply for designation as a technological university. The process for designation is designed to ensure educational quality, objectivity, international expertise, fairness and transparency. The first stage requires institutes of technology to submit a formal expression of interest in merging and seeking designation. The Higher Education Authority are considering proposals and their advice on system configuration later this year will include their advice on the progress of institutes of technology interested in seeking designation to the second stage of the designation process.
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.