Trinity launches new course as graduate unemployment rises

The School of Computer Science and Statistics has announced new part-time diploma courses as part of a Higher Education Authority (HEA) scheme to get unemployed graduates back into education.

The courses, which have their first intake of students next month, will be composed of undergraduate and postgraduate modules from the current Computer Science and Linguistic courses at Trinity College Dublin. The degree of flexibility will allow students to tailor their course to suit their career plans. Its primary aim is to improve the skill-levels of employees of vocational sectors considered by the HEA as important for future economic growth. Such sectors include the digital media sector, software development, financial services computing and green technology.

They are open to college graduates who have been unemployed for six months or have been made redundant. One programme, the Postgraduate Diploma in Computing with an Advanced Interdisciplinary Outlook is targeted at graduates in cognate disciplines, and the other, the Postgraduate Diploma in Computing (Conversion) with an Interdisciplinary Outlook is available to all third level graduates. There are 25 places available between the two courses, and students are charged €500 a year for the course. Tuition fees of €2,500 per year will be paid by the government.

The courses are being funded by the government through its Labour Market Activation Strategy and similar courses have been launched in other universities. However Trinity are falling behind as they only offer 25 places whereas the likes of UCD are offering 190 and DIT, 130.

An extra 2,500 part-time government-funded places are being provided nationwide at 15 different universities and institutes of technology; 1,500 are undergraduate courses with the remainder at graduate level. The funding for these comes from existing resources and is supposed to be at “marginal additional cost”. Graduates must have been unemployed for six months prior to the course, and are still eligible to receive unemployment benefits while on the part-time courses, once they are “available for and actively seeking employment”.

Unemployment among graduates has been rising for the last two years, as the recession worsens. 11 percent of those graduating in 2009 are currently seeking employment, up from nine percent in 2008 and four percent in 2007 and 2006.

The Paris-based Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warned this month that unemployment rates worldwide might be kept higher for longer, partly because economic conditions deteriorated so quickly. Countries like Ireland, the UK and the US have led the pack with sharp increases in unemployment, as labour laws place less restrictions on the hiring and firing of workers.  Conversely, when the recovery does arrive, unemployment might be expected to fall. This doesn’t appear to be on its way soon however, with the ESRI forecasting Irish national income not to start growing again until mid-2010 and for unemployment to peak at 16 percent of the labour force in 2010, up from 12 percent at present.

In response to the recession among Trinity’s existing student body, the Careers Workshop have teamed up with other Dublin universities to offer four workshops entitled “Taking Control of Your Future: How to recession proof your career”, which were attended by 30 students over the summer. A College spokesperson added that “as the academic year progresses it is likely that more initiatives of this kind will be required.”