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Research and Development

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 1 June 2021

Tuesday, 1 June 2021

Ceisteanna (487)

Rose Conway-Walsh

Ceist:

487. Deputy Rose Conway-Walsh asked the Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science the number of research personnel in enterprise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [29183/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Further and Higher Education)

The Business Expenditure on Research and Development (BERD) survey is published biennially by the CSO. The most recent edition was published in March 2021 and covers the period 2019-2020 (www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/er/berd/businessexpenditureonresearchdevelopment2019-2020/).

As part of the survey, enterprises were asked to indicate the numbers of staff who devoted any of their time to R&D activities. R&D personnel includes researchers (PhD qualified and others), technicians and other support staff.

In total, there were 27,755 persons engaged in R&D in Irish enterprises in 2019. Of this total, 59.8% or 16,609 persons were employed as researchers, of which 1,966 were PhD qualified researchers. In addition, there were 6,832 (24.6%) technicians and 4,313 (15.5%) support staff.

Additionally, 31.5% of enterprises have indicated they are quite likely or very likely to recruit at PhD level in the next 5 years. Furthermore, 62% of all enterprises have indicated they are quite likely or very likely to recruit at Research Masters level, this is the same for all Irish and foreign owned enterprises.

The availability and quality of graduates is essential if we are to maintain our attractiveness as a location for investment and grow our reputation. There are a number of key strategies in place at all levels to ensure we meet existing and future skills demands. These include policies designed to ensure a pipeline of suitably qualified science and technical graduates, and initiatives to equip young people and the working population more generally with the skills and capacity to meet these demands. These strategies and initiatives include: the National Skills Strategy 2025; Technology Skills 2022; Springboard+; the Human Capital Initiative and the July Stimulus package.

Postgraduate education delivered by higher education institutions is critical to Ireland’s research system. In addition to contributing to knowledge, postgraduate researcher education drives participants to develop their own research and innovation skills that can be applied in a range of environments, in academia or industry, at home or abroad. The Irish Research Council funds postgraduates across all disciplines and is an important component in the wider national strategic pursuit of a strong talent pipeline of research graduates. Science Foundation Ireland has commenced a programme to support advanced PhD skills and training, in collaboration with industry, for the new economy. There are currently six of these SFI Centres for Research Training supporting over 700 PhD students in ICT and data analytics. Through the CRTs, students will be equipped with transversal skills including entrepreneurship and innovation to enable them to adapt and react to rapidly evolving workplaces and making them a very attractive skills pipeline for industry. In addition, I recently launched a new funding programme for early career researchers, the SFI-IRC Pathway Programme. The Programme will support talented postdoctoral researchers from all research disciplines to develop their track record and transition to become independent research leaders.

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