ICT Ireland, the IBEC group that represents the high-tech sector, today held an industry briefing on the future for high-tech graduates, focusing on how companies can help close the gap between undergraduate skill levels and the expanding needs in Ireland's high-tech sector. In 2012 over 6,000 new jobs have been announced by 42 indigenous and multinational technology companies.
The group highlighted the LM Ericsson and ICT Ireland Skillnet investment of over €1 million to fund the Masters in Applied Software Technology (MAST) programme at DIT and AIT, which has just completed its first year and guarantees employment with LM Ericsson for two years on successful completion of the masters. Forty people have recently completed the programme; 100 are starting for the year 2012/2013 and there is demand for spaces for 2013/2014.
Speaking at the briefing, ICT Ireland Director Paul Sweetman said: "We're seeing huge demand for software engineers in Ireland, but we often hear of a skills-gap between the knowledge graduates have developed at third level and the experience companies need. It is increasingly clear that companies can bridge this gap by becoming involved in masters-level courses where they design the training and provide insight into the skills that industry needs.
"Companies such as Ericsson are taking a proactive approach to meet these needs. We are excited to see the success of the programme in its first year and build on that success by expanding it to include new companies next year. Ireland has a vibrant technology sector with a promising future for graduates. Over 10,000 jobs have been announced since 2011 and we expect this trend to continue to grow.
"There are many benefits for the successful applicants. Not only will they achieve an MSc and additional technical training, but work experience, an allowance for the duration of the programme or the possibility of retaining their social welfare payments, and then at the end of their studies, a job as a software engineer with a leading ICT company awaits them. It’s a win-win situation.”
The programme is supported by Skillnets Ltd through its Training Networks Programme which is funded from the National Training Fund of the Department of Education and Skills. More information is available at: www.ictirelandskillnet.org
This is a unique, fast-track, high level, intensive initiative which started with 50 unemployed graduates in September 2011 of which 40 have now become fully employed as software engineers with Ericsson at its Software Campus in Athlone. All the participants were unemployed but had qualifications in computing and related disciplines or with an engineering or science background.
The programme is highly innovative in its use of a hybrid approach both in terms of content and delivery mechanisms. Content is totally industry focused, using up-to-the-minute technologies, tools and real-world examples and delivering learning in real-time non-trivial project settings. There is a strong focus on intensive interaction among students and close active supervision by instructors (both academic and industry mentors).
In traditional computing and engineering postgraduate courses, the number of contact hours between the instructor and students is limited. This restricts the amount of guidance and learning that students may receive. While this may be adequate for generic theory acquisition it limits skill development of practical, marketable, job-ready skills. The opposite is true of the MAST programme.
The programme is genuinely industry led and this is seen in the way that companies actively engage in selecting participants and in their involvement in shaping the programme content and hosting lengthy work placements with a direct route to employment.