A recently published report provides a unique overview of the supply of skills to the Irish labour market from the formal education and training system.
It examines outflows from the formal education system across levels 1-10 of the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ). The report examines: the demographic profile of the school age population; Junior and Leaving Certificate (final upper secondary exam) trends; further education and training awards; higher education trends; and, where graduates go. The supply of skills is examined at each level in terms of student inflows; graduate output; gender; field of learning and international comparison.
The number of births in Ireland in recent years has been amongst the highest on record, reaching over 74 000 in 2009. This increase will have a significant impact on the numbers enrolling in primary and post-primary education levels in the coming years. A rise of 12 % in primary level and 7 % in the secondary level over the ten-year period is expected.
Two of the most important further education and training (FET) pathways, in terms of numbers, are Post Leaving Certificate (PLC) courses and FÁS-Training and Employment Authority apprenticeships. Enrolments and registrations for certain types of FET are frequently a response to economic conditions and participation patterns are more likely to fluctuate as economic activity changes. Future trends in PLC courses enrolments and new registrations for FÁS apprenticeships are therefore more difficult to predict. The inflows to the PLC course have been increasing and are not expected to fall below their current level in the medium term. The number for FÁS apprenticeships, however, has fallen by more than three quarters since 2006 – a reflection of the downturn in the construction industry. Although a recovery is expected in some apprenticeships in the short-term, the total number of new registrations will fall well short of the 2006 peak. The number of older learners participating in FET has increased and this is set to continue.
Between 2009 and 2018, the total number of students enrolled in higher education (at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels) is expected to increase by almost one third over the ten-year period to 2018. There has been a 17 % increase in student numbers from 2006 to 2009. Rising participation rates in higher education combined with increasing numbers sitting the Leaving Certificate should ensure further growth in third level and subsequently postgraduate output in the coming years.