Third-level courses aim to address gap in industry
Skillnet programmes include blockchain, animation and AI
The industry needs skills in a range of areas including artificial intelligence, IoT, blockchain, animation and software product management.
According to Skillnet Ireland chief technologist Mark Jordan, the agency aims to harness the benefits of digital technologies.
New formal third-level programmes aimed at addressing industry skills needs in a range of areas including artificial intelligence, IoT, blockchain, animation and software product management have been developed as a result of collaborations led by Skillnet Ireland, the national agency for workforce learning.
Along with other accredited programmes in fintech, cybersecurity, medical technologies, aviation finance and international financial services law, the courses have been created as a direct response to the growing impact of new technologies on the world of work.
The overall aim is to harness the benefits of digital technologies, according to Skillnet Ireland chief technologist Mark Jordan.
“When we look across the technological landscape, we see that digital change and emerging technologies are colliding with global megatrends to bring about disruption but, if harnessed and adopted correctly, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence [AI], machine learning, internet of things [IoT], cyber security and blockchain can be realised to offer great potential to many industry sectors by enabling improvements in growth, customer retention, automation and cost management,” he says.
“The pervasive and connected nature of these technologies will provide companies with greater insight into how they operate, and how their customers interact with their products and services,” he adds.
Business is challenged by a lack of knowledge and practical skills associated with being able to apply them to their environments and replace legacy technology
He also points to the opportunities the technologies will create for employees to take on more challenging and higher value roles. “An example could be that of an individual who had previously been responsible for collecting and processing data, would now be asked to perform a deeper level of analysis and interpretation on the data output, therefore performing a more detailed and skilled role.”
While businesses wish to make the best use of these technologies, they face certain barriers. “The reality is that business is challenged by a lack of knowledge and practical skills associated with being able to apply them to their environments and replace legacy technology,” Jordan says.
“Legacy technology tends to be the biggest barrier to effective digital transformation. Skillnet Ireland is dedicated to building and reinforcing the formal learning programmes which will enable companies to ensure they have the relevant and future-focused skills to position them for future growth and success.”
These programmes are developed through collaboration between industry, higher education institutions, Government agencies and industry training providers which is facilitated by Skillnet Ireland.
“We believe that effective collaborations of this nature are vital for Ireland to meet labour demands and equip the Irish workforce with 21st century skills,” he adds. “These collaborations also enable growth by providing industry with the talent supply needed so that new opportunities and investments can be seized upon.”
Highlighting two new programmes, Jordan says: “The National Masters Programme in AI was developed in partnership with the University of Limerick in response to global AI innovation leaders stating that the first country to produce 400 graduates in an AI MSc programme will take a leading role in shaping and defining the future utilisation of the technology. This programme, which is primarily delivered through online lectures and some on-campus workshops, incorporates core learning objectives which can be transferred directly and immediately into the workforce. It is envisaged that 400 students will graduate over the next two years.”
The Dublin City University MSc in blockchain was conceived as part of the initiative to address the lack of technical blockchain skills which act as an inhibitor to blockchain adoption in companies across key industries including manufacturing, supply chain, health, food, financial services and the public sector.
“The adoption of blockchain enhances the speed and transparency of transactions along complex supply chains while also reducing costs,” Jordan says.
“The programme has just been launched and will comprise eight core modules which incorporate the fundamental areas of distributed ledger technologies. Both of these programmes will evolve in response to the evolution and development of new use cases of the respective technologies.”
These collaborations are promoted through the Skillnet Ireland Future Skills Programme through which enterprise groups can get up to 80 per cent in seed funding to develop new programmes to meet emerging skill areas where a gap in existing provision has been clearly identified.
“We also fund the piloting and delivery of programmes developed via the Future Skills Programme,” Jordan adds.
“Ireland is now looked upon up as a world leader in the development of these academic programmes with the objective to deliver impact into the economy through upskilling,” he concludes.
“And, due to our well-respected education system, available talent and established track record of integrating businesses, Ireland is now well positioned as an open ecosystem of excellence in fostering and developing innovation.”