Re-training and re-skilling vital in short term, says ICS’s Townsend

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13 April 2018 | 0

 

The development of the “ICT Skills Action Plan, 2014‐2018” predicted demand for ICT to grow at 7.2% over the period. As Ireland makes a strong recovery from recession it is fair to expect the ICT skills gap to widen in the coming years.

But what skills do we need? Are they the same as a few years ago? Four years is a long time in tech.

The skills required by ICT professionals now go far beyond the narrow confines of technical ICT expertise. In the digital economy, ICT practitioners are now expected to have additional skillsets, such as business, analytical and foreign language skills.

Ireland once again needs to assess the likely future demand for ICT skills. Growth in areas such as blockchain, AI, robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), and next generation security are sure to increase skills demand.

Taking advantage
“The difference with these new technologies is that they are SMAC (social, mobile, analytics and cloud) enabled where previously we relied on client/server approaches so it is important we adapt our future skills strategy to enable Irish organisations and Irish based multinationals to take advantage of these technologies”, said Mary Cleary.

“Digital transformation is key to future success. Technology adoption must be about transforming the business and not about the technology itself. We need to place even more emphasis on developing people that understand how to straddle between business and technology. This is something which has been brought to our attention by the CIO Advisory Board, a group of public and private sector CIOs who advise ICS on their skills needs. In response, ICS has developed a Digital Transformation Workshop led by former Intel head of Mobile, Kevin Breen”, continued Cleary.

Balance challenge
Getting more women into tech continues to be a challenge. Through Techweek and IT Professionals Day, we have championed a range of modern and pioneering women in IT, ranging from Ada Lovelace in developing the first computer programme to Christine Lagarde’s work with the IMF on virtual currencies.

In the short-term, we believe the solution is in helping employers and employees to re-train or re-skill in priority areas.

“We need to improve the flexibility and productivity of the education and training system, by launching new, shorter courses with non‐traditional educators to respond to new skills demands and to help increase graduate output. We need to open more teaching positions in STEM and create incentives for teachers to come into this area because we are way behind in teaching coding skills at second level in Ireland. We need to support digital skills programmes such as ECDL in primary school or very early in secondary and not wait until transition year before we start talking about these skills to students.

Resetting tradition
“At ICS we are trying to reset traditional ICT education and training policies by allowing students to start younger and to help those in non-ICT careers to re-skill through our partnerships with local and national skillnets such as ICT Ireland. We are also trying to make the profession more transparent and accountable, in the same way as doctors or lawyers are by asking them to commit to CPD. There is no sector where your knowledge is more quickly out of date than ICT.”

 

Amy Townsend is communications executive with the Irish Computer Society

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