Education today for the jobs of tomorrow - Claire McGee

February 07, 2020

On the below episode of “Business at the Ballot Box”, Alastair Blair of Accenture, Jim Miley of the IUA, Lorna Fitzpatrick of the USI and I sat down to debate the key challenges facing the education system and the stress this is putting on Ireland’s talent pipeline. In such a short space of time we covered a huge range of issues, including how the lack of investment in education is hampering our society and economy. We agreed that it will be talented people, who can marry their deep subject knowledge with their  problem-solving skills, communication and collaboration skills, and digital skills will be will be critical to deliver the 21st century business strategy.

I had 3 key takeaways from our discussion: 

1. The collapse in higher education funding is impacting on how Ireland is responding to the global war on talent. It is reducing Ireland’s ability to attract research and innovation investment and leverage international funding. The next Programme for Government must prioritise delivering a long term, sustainable core funding for higher education, to provide confidence for institutional planning.  

2. Career changes and transitions will be a significant feature of the future. Investing in employability and relevant skills, and lifelong learning will become more important for the workforce. Ireland has a low uptake of lifelong learning in Ireland with approx. 10% of adults participate in upskilling and training, while the rate is more significant in Denmark (31%), Sweden (29%) and Finland (25%). The next Government need to the get to the heart of this and a culture where business, individuals and the education system see lifelong learning as essential tool. 

3. In 2020, Irish business will contribute almost 1% of payroll to the National Training Fund. At a time of significant business transformation and a funding crisis in education, the next Government must find a way to unlock this funding to enhance our talent pool. The aim must be to bring educators and employers closer together to develop and roll-out targeted, demand-driven education and training programmes to enhance employee development. Two very practical ways to achieve this would be to introduce a National Training Voucher Scheme for business and to support business to engage in Generation Apprenticeship programmes.

 To listen to the full episode, please click below.