Written Answers. - Careers in Technology.

Richard Bruton

Question:

907 Mr. R. Bruton asked the Minister for Education and Science the plans, if any, being put in place to assess the way in which student choice of technology careers can be increased from 17 per cent to 24 per cent. [1022/99]

A subcommittee of the expert group on future skills needs has been established to increase awareness, particularly among school leavers, of the new opportunities emerging in the technology industries established in Ireland. As part of its work, the committee is examining ways in which students' choice of technology careers can be increased.

It is worth noting in this regard that school leavers' interest in engineering and technology has increased in recent years. As a percentage of first preferences, applications for engineering degrees have risen by one-third since 1992 while applications for engineering and technology diplomas have risen by 50 per cent in the same period.

The first report of the expert group on future skills needs proposed that study be carried out into the factors affecting student choices at second level, and especially their choice of technology careers. This study forms part of the 1999 work programme of Forfás and that agency will be liaising with my Department in that regard.

It is also of note that I set up the commission on the points system on 15 October 1997 to examine the existing system of entry to third level education generally. The setting up of the commission met a commitment in the Government'sAn Action Programme for the Millennium, which included as a key priority the appointment of a high powered group to examine the points system.

The commission is aiming to report in late spring-early summer 1999.