The Department of Employment and Learning has launched an ICT Action Plan to address future skill needs of the sector. The plan brings together a range of actions which have been identified by employers as being central to addressing the skills needs of the ICT sector.
Within that DEL will be piloting a Higher Level Apprenticeship in ICT and exploring ways in which it can support employers in offering bursaries, scholarships and placements to students on approved courses. This builds on the Department’s existing schemes such as the Software Testers’ Academy.
DEL Minister Dr Stephen Farry said: “If we are to realise the ICT sector’s full potential, it is clear that more needs to be done to improve the match between the skills of those people in the workforce and the skills our employers need to help our companies grow.”
Speaking in support of the ICT Action Plan, Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster added: “As we continue the drive to attract high quality investors to Northern Ireland, much will depend on our ability to deliver a highly-skilled, fit-for-purpose ICT workforce.”
Among the actions set out in the action plan are initiatives to increase the number of young people choosing to study subjects and courses that are relevant to a career within the sector.
Minister of Education, John O’Dowd, in recognising the important role education plays in support of the ICT sector said: “Promotion of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) subjects, and in particular computer science, is very important to our economic growth and prosperity and I acknowledge the critical role school based education plays in engaging pupils from an early age in seeing the relevant and exciting career opportunities open to them through ICT subjects. My Department is committed to supporting this area of the economy.”
David Mawhinney, Managing Director of Equiniti ICS Ltd and chair of the e-skills UK Employer Board, was also present to support the launch of the ICT Action Plan and said: “Industry, government and education and training providers have shown their willingness to collaborate in order to fully support the ICT sector in Northern Ireland. A full and adequate delivery of the ICT Action Plan is required to ensure that ICT sector growth is supported and benefits the Northern Ireland economy as a whole.”