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In January 2012, in a direct response to specific skills shortages for people with high-level ICT skills, the Department of Education and Skills published a joint Government–Industry ICT Action Plan aimed at building the supply of high-level ICT graduates (www.hea.ie/ictskills). The Plan outlines a range of short, medium and long term measures to develop a sustainable domestic supply of high quality ICT graduates to support the further expansion and development of ICT sector and support innovation and growth across other sectors of the economy.

One of the key measures in the Plan was the roll-out, from March 2012, of more than 700 places on intensive NFQ level 8 higher diploma ICT skills conversion programmes by higher education providers in partnership with industry. The majority of 2012 participants are now completing work placements and will be graduating over the next few months. Due to very positive initial evaluation and strong industry endorsement a second phase of the conversion programmes is now being rolled out.

From spring 2013, a number of higher education providers are again offering a number of Level 8 Conversion Programmes, in collaboration with industry partners, which will provide graduates from other skills areas with the opportunity to up-skill or re-skill through a 1 year full time HDip Conversion Programme in core computing/programming, software and data analysis.

The 15 programmes on offer will be for NFQ Level 8 jobseekers with cognate/numerical skills and underlying aptitude for programming and there will be 769 places offered countrywide. All courses are supported by the HEA and Department of Education and Skills which means the tuition fees normally associated with such programmes are waived. These programmes are also unique in that all have close industry involvement in their design and operation and include industry relevant projects and work placements which will leave graduates fully 'work ready' on completion.