For Oral Answer on : 08/02/2022
Question Number(s): 68 Question Reference(s): 6119/22
Department: Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Further and Higher Education; Research; Innovation and Science the importance of mathematics in the work his Department is undertaking to promote and support research, innovation and science; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Developing a strong supply of science, technology, engineering, and maths graduates is critical to Ireland’s positioning as a world-class centre of research and innovation and to supporting high growth sectors such as ICT, life sciences and business and financial services.
My Department is committed to raising awareness of maths and other STEM disciplines, ensuring a strong pipeline of suitably graduates, and supporting research and innovation in these areas.
Raising awareness of STEM, including maths, is critical as an enabler to all of our work in this area. Last March I announced a national investment of €5.2 million through the Science Foundation Ireland Discover Programme. The funding supports 49 public engagement and education initiatives that aim to improve public understanding of STEM and engage a wide audience of people with STEM topics. SFI also support awareness-raising of science and science careers through the Discovery Primary Maths and Science and Smart Futures programmes.
The availability of qualified teachers is also critical, and last April, Minister Foley and I announced additional places in 2022 on programmes to upskill registered post-primary teachers to teach more subjects including mathematics.
Significant progress has been made over recent years in increasing graduate output in STEM disciplines, including maths. In addition to mainstream programmes, there has also been significant provision of relevant skills through Springboard+ and the Human Capital Initiative.
My Department’s science funding agency, Science Foundation Ireland, also supports our STEM talent and skills pipeline in a number of ways, including by funding fourth level masters and PhD students, early career researcher and more established, world-leading researchers.
The SFI Centre for Research Training in “Foundations of Data Science” has also received €13.6 million in funding and will provide a cohort of PhD students with world-class training in applied mathematics, statistics, and machine learning. PhD students trained in this Centre will develop skills that will make them uniquely adaptable to the rapidly-evolving needs of Ireland’s data science industry.