A survey commissioned by Ricoh Ireland has found that just 29% of Irish people believe schools are equipping children with the necessary skills for the digital era. It also revealed that only a third of respondents feel that Irish schools have access to the range of modern technologies that will help students to become digitally proficient.
The survey did find that confidence in Irish third-level education is higher with 64% believing that graduates are digitally prepared to enter the workplace. Nevertheless, 50% of respondents believe that the Irish education system lags behind its European counterparts when it comes to the provision of digital technology skills and training. Just 22% are confident that it doesn’t.
Chas Moloney, Director, Ricoh Ireland and UK, said: “It’s no exaggeration to say that digital skills are becoming as essential as reading and writing and our education bodies need to reflect that in their syllabuses. Children need to learn digital skills from a very young age and that must progress right through their journey in the education system. These are the people that are going to be driving our economy in years to come and we must ensure that they have the skills they need to do that.”
“There are so many systems and tools available today that can not only help to develop students’ digital fluency but also enhance their overall learning experience. Governments, schools and third-level institutions, therefore, need to ensure that they are encouraging and investing in, those technologies in order to make a significant contribution to our students’ future and the future of our economy.”
The Ricoh survey also shows that there is pressure on employers to do more when it comes to digital training. Just 49% of office workers believe their employer is doing enough to develop their digital skills – a worrying statistic when 41% of respondents said they would leave their job for another if it offered better digital skills development opportunities. That is despite the fact that more than two-thirds (70%) are confident that their employer understands the role technology can play in employee well-being.
Ricoh’s research also found that digital transformation is making Irish office workers worry about job security. One-in-five (19%) of respondents said they are concerned that their job could come into competition with service automation or artificial intelligence technologies.
Chas Moloney continued: “The younger generations in today’s workforce want to have access to the latest technology and use it in a way that works best for them and that enriches their work experience. While employers do understand that technology plays a major role in employee satisfaction and well-being, they seem to be integrating it into the workforce with trepidation.
“Increasingly Ireland is being viewed worldwide as a tech hub, but in order for businesses to be competitive in the digital era, they must start by making changes from within their organisation. Business owners need to realise the benefits that technology can bring to their workforce and business; it increases employee productivity and therefore can boost their bottom lines. The time to invest in technology and employees’ digital skills is now.”