Ireland cannot become complacent with investment in education

September 17, 2021

Ibec, the group that represents Irish business, has warned that Ireland cannot afford to be complacent when investing in education. It follows the publication of the OCED Education at Glance Report 2021, which indicates that investment in education in not keeping pace with competitor economies. 
Commenting on the OECD report, Claire McGee, Head of Education and Innovation Policy, says “Investment in education and skills is the cornerstone of a strong and dynamic economy and society. Talented people, the availability of key skills, and the ability to connect with education through lifelong learning and research activity are a positive feature of Ireland’s competitive offering. 

“While the OECD report notes some positive indicators for Ireland in terms of school completion and high participation levels in tertiary education, Ireland cannot become complacent on education investment. For Ireland to rank below average with peer economies in terms of investment is troubling and will threaten our reputation for talent and innovation.  This underinvestment is not economically sustainable or socially desirable.  The major concern is that this is an invisible crisis, and we won’t know or experience the direct impact until it is too late.

“Looking at a spend per student metric Ireland stands at 20th in the OECD – that is 4% below the EU average and significantly below peer economies. However, with a growing student population and increasing demands on our education system, scaling investment in quality and more relevant education and training is critical. 

“The global battle for labour, skills and innovation is certain to intensify in the decade ahead. We can only compete successfully for business investment if we have a talent and innovation base that measures up with the best in the world. 
“Budget 2022 must prioritise investment across the continuum of education from early years to higher and further education, apprenticeship, and lifelong learning so that a diversity of talent and people can participate in an evolving labour market. Ibec is calling on Government to increase spending on education and skills by €130 million in next month’s Budget.
“This much needed investment in education, skills and learning will help Ireland to prepare for a more global, digital and green future.”