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Scientific Research and Development investment welcomed by Crowe

19 June, 2006

Speaking after the Government's announcement regarding Scientific Research and Development, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Education Seán Crowe said it was long overdue but welcomed the Government's commitment to spend at least €3.8 billion on scientific research over the next 7 years.

Deputy Crowe said, "While this long overdue strategy is intended to develop Ireland's knowledge-driven economy and is first and foremost about jobs, the fact remains that many workers need up-skilling in conjunction with this investment. Approximately 39% of Ireland's working age people have less than upper second level qualifications and many have serious literacy problems. For the government to drive our knowledge economy, workers need to be trained, up-skilled and educated through on-going work-based learning initiatives and literacy programmes. As our economy develops there needs to be a proportional development in the workforce. Lifelong learning needs a serious approach from the Government. The ESRI has estimated that up to 400,000 workers in the labour force are likely to suffer deprivation in any economic downturn because they are unskilled workers

"I welcome the fact that there will be more money for cross-Border research under the strategy. Going further and developing an all-Ireland approach would be beneficial to all concerned.

"The strategy will also attempt to develop student interest in the sciences from primary level to third level. Let us hope that this strategy will take into account the fact that only a quarter of Irish secondary schools are adequately equipped to teach science. The government need to address the fact that an overwhelming 91% of teachers in a recent survey said they needed laboratory technicians to assist them in the science laboratories. Obsolete laboratories need to become a thing of the past if the government are serious about promoting science as an attractive subject. It is vital that investment is pumped into technical support for teachers.

"If the government is serious about high tech. research, then it needs to drastically improve the roll-out of broadband to compliment their strategy. As this state lags considerably behind in broadband availability, we are constantly losing our technological edge and this must be addressed". ENDS

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