CPL chief warns education system no longer preparing graduates for workplace

Anne Heraty calls for overhaul of education system and increased spending at third level

The founder and chief executive of listed recruitment company CPL Resources has called for the Irish education system to be overhauled as it is no longer adequately preparing young people for the workplace.

Anne Heraty, who founded CPL nearly 30 years ago, also called for increased spending on third-level education to ensure Irish universities are as good as those in other countries.

Speaking in Monaco ahead of the EY World Entrepreneur of the Year awards, she said that great graduates were coming through the system but that some needed more assistance to help them join the workforce.

“Our education system is set up for an industrial era and it hasn’t really changed in a hundred years. We need to reconsider the skills that people need because the future isn’t 20 years away, it is with us right now,” she said.


Critical thinking

“There is a need to think about how we combine critical thinking with creativity to give people the skills to empower themselves as the modern workplace is very different to what it once was,” Ms Heraty added.

The Longford-born businesswoman was in Monaco where she was helping finalists prepare their pitches before they went before the judges at this year’s awards.

Ms Heraty became the first woman to be named Entrepreneur of the Year in Ireland in 2007. She continues her association with the annual awards by heading up the Irish judging panel.

CPL, which was founded by Ms Heraty and her husband Paul Carroll in 1989, recorded a 15 per cent jump in revenues to €522.7 million in the year to the end of June, as pre-tax profits rose 18 per cent to €18.5 million on the back of growth in its flexible working division.

Ms Heraty is also a former director of Anglo Irish Bank, resigning from the board in January 2009, around the time the now liquidated bank was nationalised.


Ms Heraty, who was the first female chief executive of a publicly quoted Irish company following CPL’s flotation in 1999, said Ireland should look at how the Finnish education system works to get ideas on how our own education sector could be improved. She also said there was also a need to boost spending at third level generally.

Speaking to The Irish Times, Ms Heraty also reiterated a recent call for better incentives for entrepreneurs in the Republic that are in line with what is offered in the UK.

“I’d really like the Government to look at share participation for employees. We’re seeing more and more people prepared to set up businesses and they need to be able to attract the best talent and incentives play a key role in this,” she said.

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor

Charlie Taylor is a former Irish Times business journalist