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Ministers Quinn & Cannon announce 760 new places on ICT graduate skills conversion programmes

Date: 01 February 2013 

Ministers Quinn & Cannon announce 760 new places on ICT graduate skills conversion programmes

Roll-out of second phase of free higher education places to increase supply of ICT skills

The Minister for Education and Skills, Ruairí Quinn T.D., and Minister for Training & Skills, Ciarán Cannon T.D. today announced the start of the second phase of ICT graduate skills conversion programmes.

Launching the 2013 programme, Minister Quinn said, "I am very pleased to announce that more than 760 new places are being made available on 15 individual programmes in higher education institutions across the country."  

"This Government is committed to increasing the supply of high level ICT skills and to supporting jobseekers into employment by providing opportunities for graduates from other disciplines to re-skill for the expanding employment opportunities in the ICT area," he continued.

Last January, Minister Quinn, together with the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Richard Bruton T.D., launched the Joint Government - Industry ICT Action Plan: Meeting the High Level ICT Skills Needs of Enterprise in Ireland.

Under the Action Plan the first phase of the initiative started last March, with the provision of more than 700 free places on intensive ICT graduate conversion programmes, designed and delivered in partnership with industry. The majority of participants from the first phase are currently completing work placements with industry partners and will be available to take up offers of employment over the next few months.

As part of Budget 2013, Minister Quinn announced that €5 million would be made available from the National Training Fund to support a second phase of this initiative, which is managed by the Higher Education Authority on behalf of the Department of Education and Skills. 

Minister Cannon said, "These programmes are fully funded by the Department and no fees are charged to participants.  Each course participant also undertakes a work placement of 3 to 6 months with an industry partner.  This ensures the courses not only lead to an honours level degree in computer science, but graduates will also get significant work experience in some of the best ICT and other leading edge companies we have."

The 760 new places bring to almost 6,000 the number of higher education places that the DES has provided on ICT re-skilling programmes since 2011.

Courses are free, full-time and intensive.  Given the nature and intensity of the conversion programme, applicants must have already have a level 8 or equivalent qualification.  Applications from unemployed job-seekers are particularly welcome. 

Una Halligan, Chair of the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs, said, "Building a sustainable talent base of high level skills for the ICT sector and other sectors is of strategic economic importance to Ireland. I very much welcome the provision of these places on the second phase of the ICT Skills Conversion Programme.  This is a win-win programme – providing an additional supply of ICT professionals aligned to ICT skills needs in businesses as identified by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs and Forfás, and an opportunity for qualified job seekers to convert to a sector with rewarding career prospects."

Full details of the 15 ICT Conversion Programmes are available via www.ictskills.ie.  Applications for the programmes can be submitted online from next week.

ENDS.

Notes for Editors:

Since 2011 the Department has provided almost 6,000 upskilling opportunities on ICT programmes under the Springboard and ICT Skills Conversion Programmes.
More than 4,000 of these places have been at level 8 (Honours Degree) or level 9 (Masters Degree) on the National Framework of Qualifications.  

The ICT conversion programmes are all highly intensive and lead to an honours degree level award in computer science and include a work placement with an industry partner. 

The roll out of ICT conversion programmes is a priority action in the joint Government-Industry ICT Action Plan which was published by the Department of Education and Skills in January 2012 (http://www.education.ie/en/Publications/Policy-Reports/ICT-Action-Plan-Meeting-the-high-level-skills-needs-of-enterprise-in-Ireland.pdf).

The Action Plan was developed in close collaboration with industry and has a target of doubling the output of high quality computing graduates from undergraduate programmes from 1,055 in 2012 to 2,000 by 2018. 

More than 60% of the participants in the first phase of the programme were aged between 25 and 39; 40% had been unemployed for at least 6 months and 25% were previously employed in the construction sector.  

There was an increase of 20% in CAO first preference applications and an increase of 10% in acceptances for level 8 Computing courses in 2012.

The Department of Social Protection has confirmed that clients who have been on a social welfare payment such as a jobseeker’s payment and on the Live Register for at least 9 months in the 12 months prior to the commencement of the programme may be eligible to apply for support under a bespoke version of the Back to Education Allowance when taking up one of these ICT courses. Further information for D/SP clients is available from local Department of Social Protection offices.  However, participation in the programmes will not create an entitlement to receive any income support payment from the Department of Social Protection.   

Please see a list of the programmes and providers here: http://www.education.ie/en/Press-Events/Press-Releases/2013-Press-Releases/PR13-01-31_programme_details.pdf