The managing director of Accenture Ireland has warned that Ireland needs to make “profound” changes to its education system to ensure the country is equipped to secure the next wave of jobs in the digital economy.
Alastair Blair, who is also chair of Ibec’s digital economy policy committee, says the advent of artificial intelligence, virtual reality and augmented reality may require a move to a more modular education system to ensure the future workforce has the necessary depth and breadth of skills.
“Traditionally, Ireland has had access to deep skills and the availability of a young and educated workforce,” said Blair, who believes the protection of digital jobs requires a long-term commitment from government, academia and industry working together.
“There is a real opportunity for Ireland to position itself well. However, there is a need for a profound change to our education system to take advantage of the next wave of jobs,” he said.
Blair said Accenture, which acquired Irish creative agency Rothco for a reported €20m this year, is targeting further acquisitions as it is set to mark 50 years in Ireland.
Re:Coded was founded in 2016 and holds courses for people wishing to learn more about coding.
Zahra Shah, Program Manager at the organisation said: “We launched as a coding school to try and upscale youth here and bring them more towards a digital economy especially in Iraq where a lot of the jobs are provided by the government.
“The economy is not doing great, a lot of the money that comes from oil and gas, they’re not using it to rebuild the country and a lot of that is due to corruption unfortunately. But our solution is that there are so many youth here interested in technology.
“So we started a school to cater to that need for youths to have access to that education. Even the students that learn computer science at university, they’re not learning properly how to become computer programmers, it’s very theoretical. We fill that gap by teaching android app development.”
Students can take part in Re:Coded’s five month boot camps or the tech entrepreneurship academy. It’s come at a good time for the country, with the start up and tech industry growing.
Ms Shah has seen the growth first hand having moved to Iraq last August. She said: “I’ve seen so much change already. There is a huge co-working space that opened in Baghdad four months ago in addition to our co-working space in Erbil. I feel that there’s more NGOs as well getting with the programme when it comes to technology.
“A lot of our graduates are being employed because they have the tech skills to leverage that and move their projects forward so I am definitely seeing a difference. People are starting to see the benefit of relying more on technology and doing stuff online, freelancing and entrepreneurship.”
“Iraq is still behind the rest of the middle east in comparison to Dubai, but even just on a grass-roots level I feel it’s growing so quick and i’m really surprised to see how much it’s changed just from being here in a year so in another five years, I see it going a lot further.” A main focus by the organisation is the need to get women involved in coding.
“We always aim for at least 40 percent women across our projects, in our boot camps, we have 40-50 percent, the same with everything we offer. A minimum of 40 percent is our goal,” Ms Shah added.
For those who graduate from the boot camp, the job prospects are huge. Some have found employment with some of the organisation’s sponsors while others have decided to start their own startup. While others have chosen to teach coding themselves.
“In our last boot camp, we had 35 students, of those students that were looking for full-time employment, around 90 percent of them have gone into employment especially in the local economy.
The Federal Government has announced plans to achieve an all-inclusive economy by prioritising developmental efforts in the digital economy.
Minister of Communication Adebayo Shittu said in Lagos at the weekend that the move by the Federal Government was to ensure that Nigerians had equal access to government services by using digitalisation.
He said plans were on to establish a Nigeria Postal Services (NIPOST) banking, real estate and insurance company to get Nigerians into a financial inclusive economy.
Shittu, who spoke at a stakeholders’ conference on digital addressing system and address verification system, organised by NIPOST, said: ”We are looking at establishing a NIPOST property and development company to make use of NIPOST underutilised facilities wasting away. It is our plan as part of the general reform to ensure that most of the vacant and unused land are leased out to the public to establish property development. Some of the land will be available to build estates, event centres, garages and others to earn revenue for the Federal Government.”
He said in two years, NIPOST would be the leading Federal Government agency in terms of its influence on the life of every Nigerian, adding that courtesy of its upgraded processes, it would help in bringing in the largest amount of money into the Federal Government’s coffers.
”There are communities, which are about 200 to 300 kilometres away from the state capital. With the help of these offices, people can access government services from their communities. By the time we conclude in establishing these companies, there will be no one who will not be affected positively by NIPOST multifaceted companies,” the minister said.