Written answers

Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Department of Education and Skills

Education Policy

Photo of Brian LeddinBrian Leddin (Limerick City, Green Party)
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103. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the progress he is making to ensure that Ireland continues to have a supply of quality engineering graduates to meet its future skills needs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [58608/21]

Photo of Simon HarrisSimon Harris (Wicklow, Fine Gael)
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Ireland has an advanced system of skills provision across Further and Higher Education, lifelong learning and human capital development. Skills provision is underpinned by the framework of the National Skills Strategy, which is agile and responsive to changes in the world of work in order to address evolving skills needs.  This system is designed to ensure a pipeline of suitably qualified higher education graduates and apprentices, and initiatives to equip young people and the working population more generally with the skills and capacity to meet these demands.

The number of students enrolled in higher education courses in engineering, manufacturing and construction has increased by 19% since 2014, rising from 23,400 to 27,900. The annual number of graduates from these courses has increased by 29.3%, from 6,900 to 8,900. These figures are expected to increase further over the coming years.

The mainstream supply of graduates is supplemented with more targeted initiatives designed to meet specific skills needs.  The two key national targeted initiatives in the higher education system are Springboard+ and the Human Capital Initiative.  Springboard+ 2021 was launched on 14th June 2021 and there are 46 Springboard+ 2021 courses in engineering with 1,657 places.

Apprenticeships are another key component of our pipeline of skilled engineers. There are currently 14 apprenticeships available in engineering fields, ranging from Level 5 to Level 10 on the National Framework of Qualifications. As of October 2021 there were 2,697 apprentices registered on these programmes, 733 of which were newly registered this year. There are a further four apprenticeships in the engineering sector under development.

My Department will continue working with enterprise agencies and industry groups, as well as the higher education institutions, to assess the future demand for higher education graduates and apprentices in engineering as well as our ability to meet this demand, and ensure we are prepared for the challenges ahead.


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