Dáil Éireann - Volume 520 - 08 June, 2000

Written Answers. - Skill Shortages.

18. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans, if any, he has for the educational sector to have the capacity to provide an adequate supply of suitability qualified people for the job market; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [16168/00]

Minister for Education and Science (Dr. Woods): This Government is committed to ensuring that our educational system continues to produce skilled people to meet the demands of the job market. In recent years, a range of initiat[1288] ives has been put in place to support this commitment. The expert group on future skills needs, part of the business, education and training partnership, was set up to address skills needs at national level. In response to the first report of the group, the Government approved an additional investment of some £81 million for the provision of an additional 5,400 third level places and for the continuation of the post-graduate conversion programmes in IT related areas. The accelerated technician programmes in the institutes of technology sector were expanded to include information technology.

The second report of the expert skills group was published in March 2000 and the recommendations in the report are currently being considered and will be pursued through the management implementation group.

The need for increased apprentice capacity is also being addressed through the allocation of significant additional funding to cater for the increased capacity resulting in an anticipated doubling of capacity between 1997-98 and the next academic year. These developments are being accompanied by continued expansion in the number of students participating in the leaving certificate vocational programme and the leaving certificate applied; a ninefold increase in investment in adult literacy, with provision increasing from £0.850 million in 1997 to £7.825 million this year; plans for a major expansion of part-time further education options under the Back to Education Initiative. £1.027 billion has been provided for this in the national development plan; and implementation of an applied languages and information technology – international teleservices – programme within the post-leaving certificate sector in collaboration with industry.