THE President of the Limerick Institute of Technology (LIT) Dr Maria Hinfelaar has warned the college needs more investment to meet the demand for graduates.
Speaking at the opening ceremony for graduations at LIT, Dr Hinfelaar has warned that without investment in facilities and infrastructure, the college will lag behind as the pace of job creation continues apace.
More than 1,700 students will graduate from the Moylish-based college over the next week. But with 6,000 jobs coming on stream in the city in the last two years, Dr Hinfelaar said “a step change in capital funding” is required to ensure the college keeps pace.
”We have a wonderful campus masterplan. We have been able to implement some of it to make improvements, but we need a step change in capital funding to address the need for additional space and state-of-the-art equipment and carry out the masterplan,” she said.
“It is very simple: we have a growing young population coming through the second level system, and we have a growing economy. The Mid-West region is really developing and we have had 6,000 new jobs announced in the past couple of years in Limerick alone. These are all positions that require third level qualifications, and there will be many more jobs created indirectly by the expansion of all these companies.
“We know from our engagement with the agencies and with the companies themselves that there is even more on the horizon, and that there will be new emerging small businesses too in all sectors of the economy.
“This is all very good news, but those jobs announcements make two key assumptions: that there will be enough graduates coming out of higher education, and that the companies will be able to recruit local people.
“The harsh reality is that without investment in quality infrastructure and an increased footprint, LIT will struggle to meet the rising demand from students and the skills needs of industry and wider society. What will then happen is a shortage of skilled graduates to fill the jobs that all these companies are now announcing. That moment is not too far away.
“So this call for government funding is not only about LIT, it’s about actual jobs for the region. We can still fix it but we must act quickly. We have talented students, excellent programmes and wonderful staff, as well as exciting possibilities in the society we now live in but we have to face up to the reality that our facilities are not keeping pace,” she added.
Meanwhile, LIT opened a new International Fashion Incubator in the city last Friday, with Minister Jan O’Sullivan doing the honours. The college said the move, opening up the refurbished Merriman House on Lock Quay, would “stimulate employment in Limerick in the exciting sector and link the city centre into the international fashion industry”.
The new creative space in Merriman House will host approximately 100 students in a single fashion hub in the city and Minister O’Sullivan said it would position Limerick “at the forefront of Irish fashion, both nationally and internationally”.
- For more on this, see the print editions of the Limerick Leader