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Making the SMART choice in college

SMART Futures champion and star of Dragons’ Den, Barry O’Sullivan is encouraging Leaving Certificate students to consider careers in science and technology. He is bringing this idea to the fore in advance of the July 1 CAO change of mind deadline.

CEO of Altocloud, Mr O’Sullivan is also encouraging leading tech companies in Ireland to get involved with Smart Futures to inspire young people and break down any stereotypical perceptions they may have about careers in science, engineering or technology.

According to research with over 2,000 Irish third-level students, conducted by Amárach Research as part of Science Foundation Ireland’s Smart Futures programme, students’ main concern when making their CAO choice is whether they will “fit in”, ranking it higher than other factors like career prospects. The Smart Futures programme, which is managed by SFI Discover and coordinated in partnership with Engineers Ireland, provides a coordinated platform for science and technology companies to reach out to young people and their parents and clarify what a career in science, technology or engineering actually involves.

Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) has been sending volunteers from the these sectors into schools as part of the Smart Futures programme to talk to students about their career in order to highlight the range of diverse and exciting career opportunities available for graduates.

Looking at the ICT sector alone, the tech industry is booming with an average of 80 new jobs created each week and the top 10 multinational technology companies all based in Ireland. There are currently 6,000 vacancies in the IT sector, with job vacancies growing by 89% since the start of 2011 and employers are competing for available talent as a result. The average earnings in the ICT sector have also increased by 5.8% since the start of last year.

Barry O’Sullivan said, “Studying science and technology at third level offers young people the chance to be involved in work that can change the world, whilst also offering rewarding salaries and a skillset that allows you to travel the world. I would urge anyone who is unsure of what they want to study at third level to make sure they have considered all the options,” he said.

“SmartFutures.ie outlines a variety of the fantastic opportunities available in Ireland and has a host of video interviews from people working in these roles, so you can hear first-hand about what studying or working in diverse fields like cybersecurity or nanotechnology is really like,” Mr O’Sullivan added.

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