Businesses worried by fall in demand for computing courses


Jobs in computing are a massive growth area. Stock Image
Jobs in computing are a massive growth area. Stock Image

The drop in demand from school-leavers for computing courses has triggered alarm in business and technology circles.

A decline in applications to the CAO this year for information and communications technologies (ICT) programmes translated into widespread points drops in CAO Round 1 yesterday.

While UCD’s BSc computer science held up, there were some big falls: the same course in Trinity slid from 467 to 444, UCC’s slipped 126 to 403, and DIT’s went from 443 to 434.

Business organisation Ibec said there were 12,000 vacancies in the sector, offering quality job opportunities at all levels, and called for action to encourage more students to pursue ICT-related careers.

Una Fitzpatrick, director of Ibec’s Technology Ireland group, said it was positive to see more students taking higher level maths and engineering subjects in the Leaving Cert, but that was not coming through in CAO applications.

She said there was a need for initiatives in schools, higher education and further education, alternative pathways, such as apprenticeships, as well as measures to attract talent to Ireland.

Ms Fitzpatrick said more tech companies in Ireland were embracing key drivers of change, such as cloud-based technologies, which had the potential to enhance productivity and performance across the board.

“Therefore, this is a business issue for all sectors not just the tech sector,” she added.

Cybersecurity company BSI also expressed concern about the decrease in demand for physics and technology-related courses.

BSI’s head of human resources in Ireland Aoife Stokes pointed to the increase in students sitting higher level maths and said it was “alarming to see a decrease in points for computer science”.

Meanwhile, Engineers Ireland welcomed the 3pc rise in demand for engineering courses, which saw points for many courses rise, and urged all those who had received a CAO offer in this area to accept it, while others should explore routes such as apprenticeships.

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Engineers Ireland registrar Damien Owens said almost half of engineering employers agreed that there was an inadequate supply of engineers to meet demands.

Engineering and ICT courses may be among those that feature on the CAO Available Places facility that opens today advertising courses with vacancies.

Meanwhile, the release of CAO Round 1 offers led to another busy day on the National Parents’ Council post-primary (NPCpp) Helpline with about 400 calls. The free helpline on 1800 265 165 is open today from 8am to 7pm and tomorrow from 10am until 1pm.

Irish Independent

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