Skills and education: Paving the way for economic recovery

06 Aug 2015

By Rosalind Travers, Public Affairs Executive, CIF  [email protected]

How do we measure the pace of the Irish economic recovery?  By looking at our most valuable resource of course.  No, it’s not the manufacturing output from our much sought after multi-nationals, it’s not our indigenous agricultural or hospitality industries either.

It’s an educated workforce.  While attracting FDI and providing Irish businesses with a regulatory environment that promotes entrepreneurial spirit and growth is essential to drive a recovery, none of this can be achieved without a labour-force that is equipped with the right skills that match the jobs that are currently available in the Irish market.  

In a sure sign that our industry is now well into recovery mode and a major provider of employment, the number of students applying for construction related courses in this year’s CAO applications has risen significantly.  Students are acutely aware that the construction industry alone provided for 45% of all jobs created in Ireland last year.  Applications for architectural honours degree courses (Level 8) surged by 15%, and other construction and property related courses saw a growth in applications of 14%.

During the first ever Government Economic Dialogue, which took place in Dublin Castle last month, the CIF took part in an excellent session on Productivity and Skills, chaired by the Minister for Education and Skills, Jan O’Sullivan.  Throughout the session the topic of apprenticeships arose again and again.  All of those present were in consensus that we must ensure that apprenticeship schemes are also viewed as a viable career path for those leaving second level education. In an effort to push this agenda, the CIF have partnered with Careers Portal– Ireland’s leading career Guidance website- to provide information to students about the wealth of degree courses and apprenticeship schemes available in the construction industry.  We will also continue to work closely with the Department of Education and Skills, as well as the Apprenticeship Council of Ireland to ensure that apprenticeship schemes in Ireland continue to meet the needs of both students and our industry.

The 79,214 people who applied for CAO courses this year, made up of recent school leavers, mature students, and students who have completed post leaving-cert (PLC) courses, will go on to be the backbone of our future economic sustainability and growth.  We in the industry must help them to achieve a better future, with the right skills, for the right jobs, at the right time.

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