One of the largest employers in the state, the education system was by far the best and most consistent in its EDI efforts by a long way. Whether it’s Apprenticeships, Colleges of Further Education, large universities or private colleges out of all the examples that I investigated there were several that really stood out. In fact so many stood out that the article would have been too long if I included all the third level establishments that I wanted to. So I split the article into 2 parts, with the next article being mostly focused on universities.
Created in 2015, Code Institute is one of the most successful companies in the Edtech sector not only in Ireland but globally with thousands of students taking their globally recognised Diploma in Full Stack Software Development.
100% remote education based companies have an employment rate of 98% within 1 year of completing their courses and has direct links with many of the top tech companies in
Ireland today. In terms of their D&I page:
It begins with statistics about their students, 30% of whom are female, higher than the industry standard, a staggering 60% of learners speak two or more languages, or the fact that they offer 10 scholarships a year to people in Direct Provision, work with the Irish Deaf
Society and that 30% of their students are over 35. A strong opening statement was followed by a long list of organisations that they worked with to increase who shared their values. The page also gives the initiatives that they are involved with The Level Up programme, which “aims to upskill refugees and asylum seekers across several European countries. It provides focused training and helps connect ambitious professionals with tech employers.” It then provides case studies from previous graduates of the programme.
The page also goes into detail about their Women In Tech Initiatives, which reduces some of the barriers for women who want to learn the modules in their courses to get a job in tech, but may be otherwise put-off from applying for a course. They mention their returners programmes for those who have taken time out of their career. Lastly, they mention their ethical outplacement programme. This programme allows those who are leaving their positions in technology firms to join their courses and upskill in certain areas.
I’ll admit that I’m very biassed in including Colleges of Further Education on this list. I spent 4 years in Rathmines College of Further Education and it was one of the best decisions I ever made. It is difficult to get exact figures for the number of students and staff employed in these colleges. Currently there are over 200 colleges of further education in nearly every town and city in the country. There’s a number of benefits for under-represented groups in employment to start their educational journey in one of these colleges
Having a lower Leaving Cert Points requirement is one of the biggest advantages of going to a college of further education. The lower point requirements means that students who (like me) may not have achieved the Leaving Cert points required to go to one of the top universities. This means that the QII courses that the colleges provide can be a launching pad to furthering their education elsewhere
Most colleges of further education have a far lower student to teacher ratio. This means that there is a more tailored approach to education, that the student gets more attention and/or support throughout their college journey.
The majority of colleges have excellent employer links for work experience or a network of past pupils that have gone into the workforce. This means there can be natural pathways for work experience for example, particularly for non-nationals or those who may not have an extensive network to get work experience otherwise.
Colleges of Further Education have excellent links with 3rd level universities and a considerable number of students progress from Colleges of Further Education to third level universities every year, upon completion of their course. The college lecturers or career guidance counsellors may have links with local universities that means they can advise students as to what is their best course to join upon completion.
Due to the diverse nature of their students there are often celebrations of multicultural events such as Chinese New Year, Eid Mubarak, in addition to Christian festivals
Based in Glasnevin in Dublin, DCU is a modern university and has a strong ethos of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) in the workplace. Their EDI efforts support approximately 16,000 students and 1,800 employees. An example of this is when DCU became the first Autism Friendly University and has apps and resources devoted to autistic students and ensuring that autistic students are welcomed and supported in the university.
DCU gives a contact email and profiles each person in their HR EDI Unit, together with a dedicated social media account, which promotes the information and events they are holding in DCU to do with EDI in the university.
DCU has a very detailed landing page, which is very easy to navigate and access information you are looking for, such as information about the Athena Swan Programme, meeting the EDI team, and then more detailed information about the partnerships, programmes, policies and progress in area of EDI that they have had so far.
Their women in leadership initiative is now in it’s sixth year and has worked with the likes of Mary McAleese amongst others to promote the progression of women in the college into leadership positions, while also creating events around International Women’s Day. They looks at how they can support their staff in terms of initiatives around anti-racism, online learning, international staff networks, accessibility, neurodiversity, or promoting their consent framework in the workplace.
DCU promotes the specific accreditation that they have received as part of their training. This includes their work with Certified Proud and the Active Consent team in developing and implementing initiatives that help ensure safe and respectful workplaces. They give a detailed EDI report every year, which means potential employees and students can have the most up-to-date figures about what the university is doing around EDI.
For decades apprenticeships have been an excellent way for those who may have left school, or may not be suited to the education system to learn a trade and gain a qualification that they can use in the workforce. An initiative of the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, Generation Apprenticeship has helped over 8,200 apprentices a year progress through apprenticeships and ensure that the quality of these apprenticeships can suit everyone who applies to them and help under-represented groups gain experience in the workplace.
Their myth-busting section dispels many myths about apprenticeships, such as there are no paths to higher education or degrees, the opportunities outside the construction area or the opportunities for females in apprenticeships. Providing this type of information could be the difference between under-represented groups in the trade areas applying for an apprenticeship and not applying
Often the trades that apprentices move into are dominated by men. Generation Apprenticeship have launched a number of initiatives aimed at gaining female apprentices, so that they can be an example that young females in schools can feel that they will be more accepted in the workforce than previous generations of females.
The website provides case studies from previous apprentices where they explain their decision to join the apprenticeship that they chose and the confidence, education and work experience that they enjoyed as an apprentice. This gives real life examples that others can follow in their footsteps.
In each page the website offers an accessibility plug-in called speak. This allows users to listen to a person reading the information on the page instead of them reading it themselves. This can have a huge impact on the visually impaired or people with dyslexia who are interested in an apprenticeship, but may not be able to read all of the information on the website. The accessibility plug-in can access the information with others reading it to them.
Based in Dún Laoghaire, Dublin, IADT is Ireland’s only institute of art, design and technology with a specific focus on the creative cultural and technological sectors. IADT is home to 2,300 students (as of January 2023) and 372 staff (as of December 2022).
Equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) are fundamental and core to the Institute. The IADT EDI Policy, first published in 2020, sets our priorities across all equality grounds. The EDI Policy aligns with Irish equality law and EDI objectives specific to the higher education sector at the national and European levels.
Notably, in 2022, IADT was the first higher education institution in the country to be awarded an Athena Swan Bronze Institution Award under the new Charter Framework for Ireland. The Athena Swan Charter is an accreditation framework that is used across the globe to support and transform gender equality and intersectionality in higher education and research. IADT has a four-year EDI Action Plan to progress our Athena Swan work, primarily focusing on EDI issues related to gender, race, ethnicity, and age.
With six principal campuses across the Munster region, MTU is one of the newest universities in Ireland. The university supports over 18,000 students and approximately 1425 staff. Their campus is bright and modern. Their EDI team conducts regular EDI related initiatives such as the annual EDI Awareness events, roadshows, training, and projects aimed to support everyone which in line with their inclusive strategy- “Succeeding Together”.
In relation to the D&I landing page:
MTU has a Speak-Out plug-in prominently on the page. Speak Out is an online anonymous reporting tool to disclose incidents of bullying, cyberbullying, harassment, discrimination, hate crime, coercive behaviour/control, stalking, assault, sexual harassment, sexual assault, and rape. The tool helps staff and students to find relevant supports and highlight formal reporting procedures, should they wish to use them.
They also offer a detailed explanation about what the EDI is and how students can go about using EDI resources. Their Gender Equality Plan has been endorsed with a bronze award from Athena Swan where the detailed (112 page) document outlines the initiatives and plans the university is implementing to increase the balance of their gender profile employed there.
The EDI page has a very strong video about how important EDI is to the university and some of the initiatives that the university is involved in, in addition to why EDI is so important. Their events page details all the EDI events taking place at the university. The extensive list celebrates events such as International Women’s Day, Chinese New Year, International Day of Persons with Disability and events around race, religion, LGBTQ+ and multiculturalism. This is supported by a very strong EDI social media presence aimed at increasing awareness around various EDI related topics and issues.
Based in Kildare, MU is home to more than 15,000 students and is recognised in among the top 600 universities in the world and in the top 250 European universities. Offering degree, masters and PHd programs:
NUIM has a strong opening statement from the Vice President of the college who is the person in charge of EDI in the college. The information is also available in Irish further down the page. They then have dedicated social media feeds to find out more about what is happening in terms of EDI in the college.
The projects happening in terms of EDI in the university include “Consent Framework Implementation, Disability, Intersectionality, LGBTQIA+, Parents and Carers, Race Equality while there is also celebrations around multiculturalism within different th 7 different societies from countries, or areas such as disability, LGBT, faith or parenting
Their university of Sanctuary Awards is in recognition of its initiatives to promote a culture of welcome for refugees, asylum seekers and other migrants into the community. In addition to \offering scholarship opportunities to under-represented groups.
NUIM also have Equality & Diversity Policy, Gender Identity and Expression and Employment of People with Disabilities