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01 Dec 2021

Less than 1% of Laois people have third level IT qualification but a lot of Laois teens want to work in the sector

Laois County Council has produced its first Digital Skills Strategy

laois it

Laois County Council publish plan to address skills defecit which it hopes will tap into IT on many fronts

A new Laois County Council strategy has found that less than one per cent of people in Laois have a third level qualification in computing but the local authority says it is ‘vital’ that everybody is upskilled so that job and other opportunities are not missed.

The findings are contained in the first ever Laois Digital Skills Strategy2020-24 which was adopted recently by Laois County Councillors.

The council carried out an assessment in preparation for the strategy. It also shows that the number of graduates living in Laois with specific computing degrees.

“Our Digital Readiness Assessment has indicated that 2.7% of the Laois county population has a computer science degree compared to an average of 3.4% and a peer group of 2.8%.

“0.9% of the population of Laois have a recent 3rd level qualification in computer use,” the council reported.

Despite a lot of Laois teenagers want to work in the sector.

A third of Laois secondary school students sampled said they would consider a career in Information Technology, according to a survey carried out for Laois County Council.

A paper survey of 60 students for the council's strategy was carried out through Laois Comhairle na nÓg which is made up of secondary school students.

The survey of the group, aged 13-18, asked questions about how the secondary school students engage with digital technology, their level of broadband service at home and at school, and their training and education in relation to same.

Out of the 60 who replied, 96% said they were confident using IT. Some 81% use technology / IT for school work. More than three quarters said they had good access to IT in schools.

However, just over half said there was an opportunity within their school to educate them on technology. Less than nine per cent said they had daily IT training in school.

However, just 32% said they would like to pursue IT / technology as a career.

The council believes that Laois must have more people with IT skills to exploit the benefits of the digital world.

“In order to move further towards a digital society that works for all participants it is vital that all citizens acquire the digital skills needed to fully engage with the digital economy or digital society for the benefit of all.

“This requires attention to those that do not have the skills needed but also those with a basic level of digital proficiency to ensure they have the knowledge to benefit. As more and more services for citizens are moving online and most jobs now require a level of digital knowledge it is increasing important to make sure those yet to acquire digital skills are given the opportunity and not left behind,” it s aid.

“It is important in looking at the skills gaps that an analysis of the demographics in the area is undertaken to citizen profile and the opportunities for digital training. This training will then most effectively add benefit for citizens, business and service providers such as the County Council to all members of society,” said the strategy.

The council says it will collaborate with numerous stakeholders such as LOETB and Laois Partnership to support the development and promote the use of broadband connection points and other digital hubs such as the enterprise centres dotted around the county in Portlaoise, Portarlington, Mountmellick, Mountrath, Killeshin etc.

It says digital skills development provides great opportunities for all ages and abilities. It says Laois County Library Services provides accessibility and improved access to technologies for use by its members. The library service will continue to improve on its provision of technology for all levels and the development of IT learning centres across the county.

The plan says the council already provides digital training and access to training opportunities to citizens and business via the Library service and the Local Enterprise Office.

The plan says the council is also looking at digital partnerships with business and organisations to add benefit to society through digital innovation and the skills required by our citizens to take advantage of those avenues is critical to the digital strategy.

It is proposed as part of the digital strategy to further develop the part Libraries play in the digital skills transformation and especially continuing to position libraries at the heart of digital inclusion.

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