CIT Wins Significant Funding to Meet Priority Skills Needs

CIT Wins Significant Funding to Meet Priority Skills Needs

Published on: Friday, 09 October 2020

Through the Government-funded Human Capital Initiative (HCI), Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) and collaborating higher education institutions, have secured in the region of €30 million to address priority skills needs in cybersecurity, work-based and lifelong learning, new models of engineering education, the health and life science industry sector, and investment fund management. HCI is an initiative targeted towards increasing capacity in higher education in skills-focused programmes designed to meet specific industry requirements. As CIT and IT Tralee merge to establish the Munster Technological University (MTU), this funding will help to ensure that the new university’s engagement interactions, informed by best international practice, continue to make an impactful contribution to sustainable development in the region and beyond.


CIT is the lead partner in CYBER-SKILLS, a project that has been awarded €8.1 million in funding to address the skills shortages in the cybersecurity sector. Currently, there is a global shortage of cybersecurity professionals and CYBER-SKILLS has been designed to enhance Ireland’s competitiveness in this context. Ireland’s National Cybersecurity Strategy stresses the urgency of addressing this requirement, as well as the need to enhance the national supply of talent, to ensure that Ireland’s data centres (which house 30% of Europe's data), businesses and critical infrastructure are protected.


The CYBER-SKILLS project will be coordinated nationally across five higher education institutions, namely: CIT, IT Tralee, University of Limerick, Technological University Dublin and University College Dublin. The project also benefits from an international dimension with the involvement of Virginia’s Commonwealth Cyber Initiative which is based at the US University, Virginia Tech.


Dr Donna O’Shea, Chair of Cybersecurity at CIT, said: “CYBER-SKILLS will create innovative cybersecurity programmes, informed by enterprise needs and relevant research, through meaningful collaborations with national and international partners. It aims to address the major global opportunity that exists currently in the area of cybersecurity skills and training through the adoption of a large scale national response.”


Dr Barry O’Connor, President of CIT, said, “The Human Capital Initiative is an important development, driven by the Irish Government, which aims to promote innovative methods of teaching and delivery, so that learners will benefit from improved quality and more engaging ways of learning on enterprise-focused courses, as well as increasing institution’s ongoing capacity to anticipate, understand, and respond rapidly to emerging skill needs of enterprise. As we approach the establishment day of the Munster Technological University on 1st January 2021, the winning of a very significant level of funding under this initiative will provide a major boost to the capacity of CIT and IT Tralee to jointly address the skills needs of the South West region as well as supporting the national effort in this context.”


Luiz DaSilva, Executive Director of Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI), said, “The CYBER-SKILLS project is an ideal fit for the Commonwealth Cyber Initiative, which brings together more than 300 researchers from 39 higher education institutions from across Virginia with the state-funded mission of research, innovation, and workforce development at the intersection of cybersecurity, autonomous systems, and data. Developing a highly skilled cybersecurity workforce is one of our key missions and this is an important international partnership between two countries with many cultural and economic ties. As part of the team, we will exchange best practices in cybersecurity education and workforce development, facilitate extended visits by students and faculty members on both sides of the Atlantic, and explore joint content creation and delivery.”


CIT is also a partner in four other projects that are benefiting from HCI funding allocations.


  • RPL project: The objective of this project is to build a consistent and coherent approach to the recognition of prior learning (RPL) within and across the entire public higher education (HE) sector. It is a collaboration between all Institutes of Technology, Universities, and the Technological Universities.  In addition to enhancing RPL within institutions it also supports engagement between higher education and enterprise, in meeting upskilling and reskilling needs which will aide in the development of a dynamic workforce. It is being led by IT Carlow and the Technological Higher Education Association.


  • iEd Hub project: UCC, CIT and 9 industry partners will develop a new education hub for enterprise - the iEd Hub - for supporting the development of a new generation of graduates for the Health & Life Sciences industry sector. The industry and academic partners will co-design and deliver a suite of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, both fulltime and flexible part-time. Training will incorporate flexible modes of delivery involving contemporary pedagogical approaches such as blended learning and experiential learning, as well as technological innovations such as mixed reality to provide a transformative learning experience. The iEd Hub will result in the deepening of relationships between partners in education, and in research and development, as well as driving new enterprise development to the benefit of the regional and national economies.


  • “Protecting and Strengthening the Investment Funds Industry in Ireland" project: The funds industry in Ireland directly employs 16,000 people. The industry pays over €830 million annually in direct taxes to the Exchequer.  It is an important contributor to regional economic development with employment opportunities offered across a significant number of our major cities and towns. Employment in the industry is projected to grow to almost 20,000 in the five-year period from 2018 to 2023. Led by Higher Education partner Waterford Institute of Technology, Cork Institute of Technology and industry partners will gather existing in-house and employer-based expertise into an Academy for Investment Fund Executive Education and Development (AIFEED) to develop a suite of modules leading to a level 9 masters award with exit and re-entry points along the way. Programme delivery will use a flexible platform using blended learning technologies. The proposal has the support of the regional financial services community. Ireland South East Financial Services, the financial services cluster for the South East, and Cork for IFS (part of Connecting Cork), the Financial Services cluster for Cork, are excited by the proposal and the wider benefits that it will bring to the region.


  • Rethinking Engineering Education in Ireland (REEdl) Project: Led by IT Tralee, this project will develop a project-based learning approach to engineering undergraduate formation. It will bring together organisations from higher education, industry and research, while seeking to increase provision of engineering skills in areas of identified enterprise need. It will also seek to futureproof graduates with industry-relevant skills for emerging technologies, as well as promoting and embedding transversal skills, while driving innovation in higher education and building on best practice nationally and internationally.

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