Ireland’s Next TU Well Positioned to Address Challenges of Post-Pandemic Economy.

The River Shannon
The River Shannon

Ireland’s next technological university is well placed to address the challenges of a post-pandemic economy by meeting the resulting demands for higher education, upskilling and reskilling, as well as addressing educational disadvantage and economic regional imbalances.

The report, Socio-Economic Assessment of the AIT-LIT Consortium, which was commissioned as part of the process to develop the new technological university, has highlighted how the higher education system will be central to Ireland’s economic recovery from the twin shocks of COVID-19 and Brexit, and will be especially important in enabling the regions to realise their potential.

The 130-page report by Shannon International Development found that the new technological university will have a key role to play in restoring the finances of the country to 2019 levels and providing support to a changing post-pandemic society.

According to the socio-economic assessment, structural changes, notably the transition to the digital economy and the shift to remote working and service delivery, are likely to be accelerated as a result of the pandemic recession.

Demand for higher education, upskilling and reskilling is therefore likely to increase in the aftermath of the pandemic, creating opportunities for higher education institutions.

Enterprises are also likely to seek more collaboration with the higher education sector on research, development and innovation as they adapt to the challenges of the post-pandemic economy.

"The new TU will also act as a research and innovation hub for enterprise in the Midlands and Mid-West. Building research intensity and capacity in the new TU will develop a key regional asset, delivering targeted research activities that will strengthen the competitiveness of enterprises in both regions.”

“The COVID-19 recession and Brexit will continue to impact the Irish economy and society throughout the coming decade. The rise in unemployment and the sectoral shifts resulting from the two shocks will create additional demand for training and education,” the report states.

Responsiveness and flexibility will be required throughout the HEI sector to cater for the additional learners seeking to reskill, to upskill and to embark on new career paths as the economy adjusts to the post-COVID and post-Brexit realities.

Equally, companies in all sectors will be looking to take advantage of the opportunities that the new economy will create and will look to the HEI sector to support their research, development and innovation activities. The applied research and innovation capabilities of the AIT-LIT Consortium will be a valuable resource in enabling enterprises to exploit these opportunities.

And while the socio-economic assessment of the AIT-LIT Consortium points to the importance of the new TU for the Midlands and the Mid-West in a post-pandemic Ireland, it also concentrates on the TU’s national role in balanced regional development.

"Ireland’s next technological university is well placed to address the challenges of a post-pandemic economy by meeting the resulting demands for higher education, upskilling and reskilling, as well as addressing educational disadvantage and economic regional imbalances."

The report outlines how the Irish economy recovered strongly from the 2008-2009 financial crash and by the end of 2019 was in a stronger, more sustainable economic position than it had been prior to the recession.

However, this strong national economic performance since 2010 was accompanied with growing disparities in regional growth rates, with Dublin and the South West widening the gap with other Irish regions including the Midlands and the Mid-West.

The report suggests that the new TU can help address these imbalances through developing the skills base of the Midlands and Mid-West regions.

Raising regional productivity in the Midlands and Mid-West will be essential for the future economy of these regions, especially in the indigenous enterprise sector.

A wider and deeper skills base will also make both regions more attractive for inward investment, especially by overseas companies, and will help to grow future jobs and incomes in the Midlands and Mid-West, making for a better balanced pattern of spatial development

The new TU will also act as a research and innovation hub for enterprise in the Midlands and Mid-West. “Building research intensity and capacity in the new TU will develop a key regional asset, delivering targeted research activities that will strengthen the competitiveness of enterprises in both regions.

"More and better innovation driven by the new TU will build more productive regions that can compete internationally for mobile investment and talent.”

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