Thursday, 7 July 2022
Department of Education and Skills
Education and Training Provision
280. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which adequate postgraduates are likely to be available to take up positions in the workplace in the current year and thereafter; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36994/22]
281. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills if he is satisfied at the extent to which third level graduates are set to increase in numbers over the next three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36995/22]
283. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the extent to which his Department continues to liaise with academia in order to ensure an adequacy of third or fourth level graduates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36997/22]
287. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills his plans for the continued competitive edge for graduates seeking employment in the future; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [37001/22]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 280 to 283, inclusive, 286 and 287 together.
One of my goals as Minister is to ensure that potential learners have access to the educational pathways that allow them reach their potential in a way that meets the very broad and rapidly changing needs of our labour force, the economy and society. It is therefore my objective to ensure that there is access into either further or higher education for each person who wishes to pursue educational options at third-level.
Our higher education system has expanded significantly over the past number of years, from 209,300 enrolments in 2014 to 245,700 enrolments in 2020. The most recent projections of full-time enrolment in higher education predict that enrolments will rise a further 13% over the next decade, and work is ongoing to build capacity within the system to accommodate this increase.
Work is also ongoing on an updated set of enrolment projections for higher education, which will further assist in this capacity-building programme of work. My Department does not currently produce specific projections for the number of higher education graduates, as a number of variables can impact graduate output in any one year.
On 28th June, I announced the creation of more than 1,000 places across a range of disciplines. These places were created following extensive engagements between my officials, the HEA and the higher education sector. The places are in areas of key skills needs, as identified by the national skills architecture, and will be permanent additions in the system. Some of the areas in which these places are being created include ICT, Architecture and Construction, Nursing and other healthcare, Engineering and Environment.
There are a number of key strategies in place at all levels to ensure we meet existing and future skills demands. These include policies designed to ensure a pipeline of suitably qualified science and technical graduates, and initiatives to equip young people and the working population more generally with the skills and capacity to meet these demands. Central to shaping these strategies is the partnership approach between the Further and Higher Education system and Government, Industry, the National Skills Council, the National Training Fund Advisory Group, the Regional Skills Fora and the Apprenticeship Council.
The National Skills Council (NSC) within its remit advises on the prioritisation of identified skills needs and on how to secure delivery of these needs. Key high level trends identified at recent NSC meetings include automation and digitisation, digital literacy and transversal skills. Information on these trends is then used to formulate our skills strategies and initiatives such as the National Skills Strategy 2025; Technology Skills 2022; Springboard+ and the Human Capital Initiative.
My Department will continue to advance efforts to ensure that Ireland offers learning opportunities to all who wish to pursue then, and produces the graduates the workforce needs with the skills that our economy and society require.
282. To ask the Minister for Education and Skills the extent that his Department continues to liaise with industry to ensure an adequate supply of technical graduates; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36996/22]
Ireland has a highly developed national skills system across further and higher education and apprenticeship, lifelong learning and human capital development, under the framework of the National Skills Strategy, and underpinned by strong partnership with key stakeholders. It is firmly focused on responding in an agile and flexible way to priority skill needs, and to changes in the world of work driven by technology, to ensure Ireland has a skilled and productive workforce.
The National Skills Council and Regional Skills Fora operating under the National Skills Strategy, foster engagement, dialogue, and collaboration between relevant Government Departments and agencies, the education and training system, the enterprise agencies, and enterprise representatives in relation to skills priorities.
The skills ecosystem also encompasses the labour market information entities including the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit in SOLAS and the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs. This skills infrastructure informs and drives responsive and flexible forecasting, planning, and provision to meet skills requirements across all sectors of the economy. It has an important role to play in identifying skills provision shortfalls to be addressed by the education and training system and concerns relating to labour shortages in particular sectors that relate to other factors.
Through 2022, Ireland, in partnership with the OECD, is reviewing Ireland’s skills strategies, policies and approaches. This will be central to our economic and social sustainability against the backdrop of major trends impacting on the workforce and society including digitalisation and climate transition. The work of the OECD is firmly grounded in extensive stakeholder consultation, including specific engagements focused on the needs of regional enterprises and SMEs.