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Home » Digital Transformation » Why learning flexibility is key to addressing the IT skills shortage

Maureen Fox

Business Relationships Manager, The Open University

The digital skills shortage is not just an issue for Ireland. It’s a tight labour market, and there is a growing IT skills gap.

As Business Relationships Manager at The Open University (OU) in Ireland, I keep a close eye on the skills landscape in Ireland and the UK, and many challenges remain the same. Whether it is cybersecurity specialists or digital leaders, it’s tough to recruit suitable talent quickly and even harder to retain that talent.

How to tackle IT skills shortage

To succeed with digital transformation, organisations must adopt a lifelong learning mindset and offer relevant opportunities for staff to upskill and reskill into new digital roles. In this, the 2023 European Year of Skills in Ireland, now is the time to consider flexible training opportunities.

Promoting equity in access to education

A recent Aontas survey found that 65% of adults aged 17–64 in Ireland had participated in learning in the last three years. However, the caveat to this is that these learners were more likely to be younger, live in Dublin and have remained longer in formal education.

Access to flexible education can unlock lifelong learning opportunities.

This means many adults are missing out on learning and re-employment opportunities. That’s bad news for any business needing fresh IT talent. Equity is a key part of the OU’s social mission; we are committed to widening access to education by removing barriers to learning. We are well-placed to help both individuals and businesses that want to make that investment.

Our flexible, supported distance learning model allows students to study around their lives. Over 37,000 students disclose having a disability, and many are carers or juggling studying with a full-time job.

Microcredentials and short courses

Ambition doesn’t need to stop with a busy life. Access to flexible education can unlock lifelong learning opportunities — offering people the opportunity to reach their potential; inspiring learning and opening up education to all.

The OU is arming businesses with the skills to grow through our accredited microcredentials and short courses in business-critical topics, such as data science, software development, digital management and cybersecurity.

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