In advance of the CAO Change of Mind deadline on 1st July, Smart Futures Champion and star of ‘Dragons’ Den’ Barry O’Sullivan has encouraged Leaving Certificate students to consider careers in science and technology. As CEO of Altocloud, O’Sullivan is also encouraging leading tech companies in Ireland to get involved with Smart Futures to inspire young people and break down any stereotypical perceptions they may have about careers in science, engineering or technology.
According to research with over 2,000 Irish third-level students, conducted by Amárach Research as part of Science Foundation Ireland’s Smart Futures programme, students’ main concern when making their CAO choice is whether they will “fit in”, ranking it higher than other factors like career prospects. The Smart Futures programme, which is managed by SFI Discover and coordinated in partnership with Engineers Ireland, provides a coordinated platform for science and technology companies to reach out to young people and their parents and clarify what a career in science, technology or engineering actually involves.
Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has been sending volunteers from the these sectors into schools as part of the Smart Futures programme to talk to students about their career in order to highlight the range of diverse and exciting career opportunities available for graduates.
Looking at the ICT sector alone, the tech industry is booming with an average of 80 new jobs created each week and the top ten multinational technology companies all based in Ireland. There are currently 6,000 vacancies in the IT sector, with job vacancies growing by 89% since the start of 2011 and employers are competing for available talent as a result. The average earnings in the ICT sector have also increased by 5.8% since the start of last year.
Barry O’Sullivan said: “Studying science and technology at third level offers young people the chance to be involved in work that can change the world, whilst also offering rewarding salaries and a skill set that allows you to travel the world. I would urge anyone who is unsure of what they want to study at third level to make sure they have considered all the options. SmartFutures.ie outlines a variety of the fantastic opportunities available in Ireland and has a host of video interviews from people working in these roles, so you can hear first-hand about what studying or working in diverse fields like cybersecurity or nanotechnology is really like.”
“First-hand testimonies are the best way to show young people what they are missing in not choosing careers in areas like ICT. People working in industry can volunteer to visit schools and show young people first-hand how exciting the world of innovation in Ireland is. Employers are looking for more graduates with skills like analytical thinking or programming, so it’s a win-win if companies come on board to dispel any stereotypes about courses like Computer Science or Electronic Engineering.”
Smart Futures also provides an online resource for students and parents, featuring real life career stories and video interviews with people working in a range of industries. Parents are encouraged to visit www.smartfutures.ie to help support their children in exploring CAO and career decisions.