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Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science | Opportunities of graduates in workforce and marketplace

To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the extent to which he continues to identify the most acute areas of shortages of graduates available to the workforce; his ongoing plans to meet such shortages; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the level of progress achieved the main stakeholders in providing an adequate supply of suitably qualified graduates for the marketplace; and if he will make a statement on the matter.

To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the extent to which his Department continues to coordinate opportunities to emphasise the sciences, innovation and research, with a view to ensuring the maximum level of preparedness to graduates through such channels having particular regard to the needs in an ever-increasingly competitive marketplace; and if he will make a statement on the matter.


My Department is focused on driving a skills ecosystem and skills agenda in Ireland which is agile and flexible priority skill needs, and to changes in the world of work driven by technology, to ensure Ireland has a skilled and productive workforce. Our approach to addressing these challenges is firmly rooted in collaborative partnership with enterprise and other stakeholders, and is central to our economic and social ambitions, as borne out in the 2021 Economic Recovery Plan.

Skillnet, the National Skills Council and the Regional Skills Fora network all work closely with my Department to foster engagement, dialogue, and collaboration between the education and training system, the enterprise agencies, and enterprise representatives in relation to skills priorities.

My Department’s project with the OECD to review Ireland’s skills approach has seen a comprehensive review throughout the year of these issues.   Clear areas of focus emerging include our need to have more dynamic, granular, real-time data to inform how we respond rapidly to industry’s needs, particularly across digital skills demands in all sectors; our intent to continue focus on short, flexible and blended skilling options for individuals entering and for people transitioning in the workforce; and, our ambition to progress ease of navigability through options for skilling and ensuring individualised, continuous learning journeys are enabled, encouraged and as easy as possible to undertake.

The effectiveness and impact of the whole of the tertiary education system – FET, HE & Apprenticeship – is enhanced when education and training provision, as well broader upskilling and reskilling opportunities, are informed by the experience, insights and expertise of the enterprise sector. We will only ensure the best possible skills and talent pipeline through working together and continuing to challenge each other as partners.

In relation to the areas of science, innovation and research specifically, I am seeking to further momentum in fostering talent to match the dynamic and rapidly evolving landscape of our economy. For example, Impact 2030: Ireland’s Research and Innovation Strategy was published earlier this year. It reaffirms that talent lies at the heart of the Irish research and innovation ecosystem. For future national prosperity, Ireland must be a great place to be a researcher and innovator, and it must attract the best people from all backgrounds, domestically and internationally.

Over the course of the strategy, students will be supported to gain the skills and experience that will enable them to engage with, and respond to, the latest developments in research and innovation. A consistent research student experience will be promoted and work will be undertaken to ensure that the research community is reflective of society and provides opportunities for all.

Researchers will be supported with the right skills development and career opportunities so that they can make their maximum contribution. Career pathways will be improved, starting with a deeper understanding of the nature of the demand for research talent. Researchers’ transversal skills will be enhanced so that they can make the greatest possible difference across enterprise, the public sector, civic society organisations and internationally.

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