Head of Education and Innovation Policy, Ibec
Since the turn of the century, the way we work, communicate, do business and access information has fundamentally changed. Change at the enterprise level is accelerating by investment in technologies.
Successful implementation of technologies — such as cloud and cognitive computing, AI and machine learning — rests with capable people with the necessary skills and abilities to ensure business transformation.
Workplace disruption is ongoing
While some organisations are more open and ready for digitalisation, this is now a constant challenge for all businesses across all industries. At the same time, we need new skills to adapt to climate change and support the transition to a low-carbon economy.
The education and skills needs of the economy are highly complex and evolve rapidly.
Embedding real-world enterprise challenges within programmes and linking students with mentors to work on specific in-house projects could be game-changing.
New skills requirements and shifting education
The landscape of the education system is also evolving, providing pressure and the rationale for system-wide transformation and reconfiguration. Higher education and further education and training institutions are now required to respond to the rapidly changing skills needs of industries and to reflect the more dynamic economy and society in which we live and work.
The education system will need to consider the relevance of conventional learning pathways to gain qualifications and how to incorporate informal and non-formal approaches to learning; how to engage learners, business, partners and collaborators in the design of learning and research programmes; address the imperative of lifelong learning; how to accommodate the needs of a new student profile and demographic to also include adult learners, career returners and changers; and respond to the changing pattern of study.
A seismic shift is needed in the relationship between Irish universities and further education colleges to be successful in this endeavour.
Bidirectional approach to talent and innovation development
Education institutions should rethink their programmes with greater levels of enterprise engagement. Embedding real-world enterprise challenges within programmes and linking students with mentors to work on specific in-house projects could be game-changing.
For instance, universities can provide excellent test beds and extended workbench facilities to companies and link in academic expertise and brain power to work on common issues. This can make the research and technology centre network more accessible to a broader range of enterprises and students.
Talented people, the availability of key skills and the ability to connect easily with universities are real positive features of Ireland’s competitive offering. Let’s keep disrupting, learning and innovating together.