ICT is an exciting, well paid and varied career which offers fantastic opportunities for travel, lifelong learning and has a positive impact on the world. From artificial intelligence, smartphones, the internet, digital media to virtual reality use in student medicine, IT touches every aspect of our lives. For some time, Ireland has enjoyed the reputation as being at the heart of ICT in Europe. The average ICT salary is approximately €61,000 per annum, with wages for full time workers in growth sectors surging ahead at three times other wage groups (CSO 2020). However, despite all this one in every two jobs is filled by candidates from abroad. Furthermore, Ireland's digital workforce suffers from structural under-representation of people from socio-economically disadvantaged households and women (e-Skills for diversity, 2019).
A lack of knowledge by young people & educators around alternative pathways into tech including the ICT Associate Apprenticeship pathways. The need to increase awareness around the types & availability of tech roles available, along with the opportunities and obstacles that exist for young people seeking a future in technology
As Ireland's economy, at national and regional levels, is increasingly transformed by digital technologies over the coming years, it is crucial that tech skills provisioning is more aligned and effective in enabling job seekers to meet the requirements of a rapidly changing labour market. This involves schools particularly during the senior cycle of secondary & upwards: what is taught and how it is taught and the cognitive and noncognitive achievements that are fostered at each level of the system (FIT 2018 ICT Audit).
Experience from FIT's pre-apprenticeship, piloted with the support of Salesforce, showed that if given the tools and support at the appropriate and an earlier juncture than existing methodology, candidates from disadvantaged areas can access tech apprenticeship opportunities and develop skills and experiences highly valued by their employers. They are successful if they can express themselves well, demonstrate confidence and show a passion for the technology area they crave to work in. However, engaging them only once they have dropped out of or finished school has been challenging.
High competition from more qualified candidates with third level degrees and higher than expected uptake of apprenticeship routes by more privileged young people has made it harder for young people from socio disadvantaged areas to enter successfully. 90% of those who continue onto third level come from middle to high income families whereas just over 10% come from socio-economically disadvantaged areas.
What is the ‘Choose Tech’ Programme about?
The 'Choose Tech' programme is a new project in association with Salesforce to increase access and inclusion within the ICT industry & to highlight to young people at an earlier juncture than ever before the exciting & varied careers that are available in Ireland to them and how to get started on their tech journey. The project aims to give young people (15 - 20yr olds) a broader, tangible and defined roadmap to follow by linking the skills learned or developed in the 'Choose Tech' programme & apprenticeship route to real tech jobs.
The project aims to give young people (15 - 20yr olds) a broader, tangible and defined roadmap to follow by linking the skills learned or developed in the 'Choose Tech' programme & apprenticeship route to real tech jobs.
The programme focuses on two main aspects:
Young People- Getting young people involved in technology at much earlier stage by introducing to bitesize digital learning activities and a micro-credential certification pathway. The aim is that young people can learn new or develop existing digital skills and earn digital badges whilst simultaneously benefiting from interaction from tech company professionals through 'near peer' engagements. Micro-credentials offer flexible learning.
Educators and Leaders- Giving the educators/youth leaders the opportunity to be more familiar with the tech roles available in Ireland, the various pathways and the obstacles & opportunities that exist for young people seeking a tech career in the future.
Learn new skills for a digital world for free
How are they earned?
Badges can be earned in several ways including one or multiples of the following:
What are the benefits of micro-credentials & digital badges?
RECOGNISE ACHIEVEMENT: Digital badges are based on a digital standard to recognise learning, know how, achievements, skills & attitudes across multiple disciples.
STAND OUT: In a competitive Irish job market, the stakes are high for learners to demonstrate relevant competencies to future employers. Overall micro-credentials are an effective way to show interest and acumen in a specific skills area attitudes across multiple disciples. employers.
FLEXIBLE LEARNING: Micro-credentials offer versatile, flexible learning which is more accessible and enables learners to better fit learning into their daily lives.
CROSS-INDUSTRY RECOGNITION: Micro-credentials such as badges provide cross-industry recognition of tangible skills and competencies. The proof of skills is in the badge.
MOTIVATES LEARNERS: Badge recognition has proven to motivate learners to drive their own achievement by getting them on a certification pathway. It encourages students to pursue goals, whilst giving them a sense of accomplishment on the pathway.
IDENTIFY POTENTIAL: Digital badges allow learners along with their educators to identify their specific talents and potential in specific subject areas and develop them into the future.