INDUSTRIALISTS have welcomed the Irish government's creation of a IRPounds 250 million (Pounds 224 million) education technology investment fund. Job creation agencies feel it will give them a competitive edge over their rivals, particularly those in the United Kingdom.
Around IRPounds 60 million will go towards creating 7,000 places for software graduates and engineering technicians. IRPounds 80 million will be spent on infrastructural developments in the technical colleges. IRPounds 30 million will be spent on third-level equipment grants and half that on research and development facilities. IRPounds 20 million will be spent on facilities for vocational training programmes and the same on creating 2,000 extra college places for trainees in the short-staffed hotel and catering industry.
The fund will be on top of normal annual capital allocations and will not replace or reduce existing investment. The private sector is invited to put money into the fund.
The government is also stepping up a Skills Awareness Programme to alert young people, their parents and teachers to employment opportunities in the new high-tech areas.