600 students to be trained in digital, data and ICT skills for the future

31st May 2018 – Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD and Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD, today launched a new Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) postgraduate research training programme that will see an investment of over €100 million, from the Government of Ireland, to meet industry skills needs. The new SFI Centres for Research Training initiative will provide training for 600 postgraduate students in areas of nationally and internationally identified future skills needs of digital, data and ICT.

The SFI Centres for Research Training will build on existing research excellence, by developing cohorts of academically outstanding future research leaders with the skills and knowledge required to address the future challenges of an ever-changing work environment.

The SFI Centres for Research Training will be required to build partnerships with enterprise in the design and delivery of training programmes to ensure that postgraduates have the necessary skillsets to meet the needs of enterprise and to attract investment to Ireland through the availability of a high-value talent pipeline. 

As part of the training programme, students will work alongside academic research teams, and will also be required to undertake placements in enterprise, other non-academic establishments, or in the groups of international collaborators.

SFI expects that this programme will see approximately 600 additional postgraduate students being trained, with approximately 20% of these funded from other sources such as industry, universities or charitable organisations. 

Speaking at the launch of the new Programme, Minister for Business, Enterprise, and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD said: “Delivering on the objective set out in Project 2040 of building a strong economy will require investment in skills and talent to support economic competitiveness and enterprise growth.  This new Programme was developed following a consultation process by my Department, to determine the areas of greatest priority and the nature of skills training required by enterprise.  The SFI Centres for Research Training programme will bring together the higher education sector and industry to develop and deliver innovative programmes of research and training, future-proofing the economy by addressing national skills needs in the areas of digital, data and ICT.

Minister of State for Training, Skills, Innovation, Research and Development, John Halligan TD said: “To have a pipeline of highly trained, well networked research talent in areas of strategic importance for Ireland is a key priority for us.  A key feature of the SFI Centres for Research Training is its cohort-based approach to research training which provides an opportunity for holistic, multi or interdisciplinary research to be pursued.  This will provide sufficient scale and sustainability to allow for the development and delivery of innovative training opportunities for students.  The cohort approach will expose students to the wider scientific relevance of their research, encourage peer-to-peer learning and facilitate the establishment of networks.  All of this will help enhance their skills, employability and leadership potential.” 

Dr Ciarán Seoighe, Deputy-Director, Science Foundation Ireland said: “We need to be ambitious and invest in areas of real potential to ensure our future economic competitiveness.  Education is a key element of our future competitiveness especially at third and postgraduate levels right up to the world-class researchers and research centres Science Foundation Ireland funds.  I’m delighted to announce the new SFI Centres for Research Training programme today as it is another step in ensuring we address the needs of our society and help futureproof against the challenges of our ever-changing work environment.

Operating on a thematic basis in terms of skills needs, the first SFI Centres for Research Training will focus on the area of ‘Data and ICT Skills for the Future’.  The scope of this thematic area includes innovative software and hardware-based information and communications technologies (ICT) as well as the diffusion of ICT in other application areas of science and technology.  With ICT playing a role as a key enabling technology in other application areas of science and technology, the development and adoption of disruptive technologies will also be a focus for this round of funding.  

For more information on the SFI Centres for Research Training programme’s call for applications, please see the call webpage.

The deadline for expressions of interest is 26th June 2018 with the deadline for submission of full proposals 5th September  2018.