Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Questions (85)

Catherine Murphy


85. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Education and Skills if he will provide an update on the merger of the National Centre for Technology in Education with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in order to integrate ICT education and further aid the number of students opting for ICT courses at third level; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32500/13]

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Written answers (Question to Education)

The Programme for Government included a proposal to merge the National Centre for Technology in Education (NCTE) with the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment. Following consideration of the issues involved, it was decided that the school-focused functions of the NCTE should be integrated more closely with other support services for teachers and schools and that certain functions relating to curriculum development be transferred to the NCCA. Therefore the NCTE was formally merged with the Professional Development Service for Teachers (PDST) as of 1st June 2012, while a senior post from the NCTE dealing with curricular matters was assigned to the NCCA. A new senior management team consisting of a Director and four Deputy Directors was appointed to the PDST organisation as a whole.

One of the Deputy Director posts has responsibility for the ICT support service functions carried out by the staff of the former NCTE. The new configuration ensures greater integration of ICT within teaching and learning both in terms of policy and practice. In relation to increasing the number of students opting for ICT courses at third level, the joint Government-Industry ICT Action Plan, which was published in January 2012, sets out a multi-level approach with an overarching aim of doubling the number of graduates from ICT disciplines to 2,000 by 2018. It contains a comprehensive range of measures to build the domestic supply of ICT graduates, in the short, medium and long term, including through the roll out of the ICT graduate skills conversion programmes. Almost 1,500 places have been provided for graduate jobseekers under the two rounds of the ICT graduate skills conversion programmes that have issued to date. More than 400 people have already graduated from these programmes and a further 300 are due to graduate before the end of this year. In addition, more than 3,700 people have enrolled on ICT programmes under the first two rounds of the Springboard reskilling initiative and a further 2,000 ICT Springboard places have been made available under the third phase of Springboard which was launched in June 2013.

The Plan has helped to raise awareness of employment opportunities in ICT. Technology courses accounted for 20.5% of all honours degree level first preference applications through the CAO this year. The increase in demand from students for technology courses, including a 50% increase in first preference applications for computing over the past 5 years is very positive in building the future supply of graduates.