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Dublin: 15 °C Friday 10 July, 2020

There are too many second-rate colleges in Ireland with 'Mickey Mouse courses'

Why one Irish entrepreneur hired staff from India, Portugal and Sweden over local workers.

Tweak founder and CEO Jerry Kennelly
Tweak founder and CEO Jerry Kennelly

IRELAND HAS TOO many substandard third-level schools that are putting students through three-year degrees that “aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on”, one entrepreneur says.

Photographer-turned businessman Jerry Kennelly, who sold his stock photo business Stockbyte to Getty Images for $135 million in 2006, said the country wasn’t providing the graduates businesses like his latest startup,, really needed.

“We have only one Irish person working in the team – we have had to employ people in Stockholm, Lisbon and Hyderabad to get the job done, to find the qualified people,” he said.

Speaking at an Irish Small and Medium Enterprises Association (ISME) conference, Kennelly said Ireland had clear “tiers” in its education system and there were a lot of “third-rate” colleges putting students through “Mickey Mouse courses”.

“The institutions themselves are set up for the benefit of academics,” he said.

“The regional colleges, as they used to be known, have a lot of courses that are absolutely useless. People spend three years doing what is really a one-year course … it’s a waste of peoples’ time and energy.”

Startups are a young-person’s game

Kennelly, who is an honorary fellow at the Tralee Institute of Technology and co-founded the Young Entrepreneur Program, earlier said being an entrepreneur was mainly suited to the young as he detailed his gruelling seven-day schedule of international travel, meetings, conferences and events.

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“I think it’s really important that when people are young and they have the energy, they spend their time wisely,” he said.

“We have a lot of fantastic young people in this country, but I think in terms of selecting their careers its like pinning the tail on a donkey – there’s no assistance whatsoever … there’s an absolute disconnection between education and the real world”.

READ: Shouldn’t you be at school, SMEs? How a lack of training is letting down business >

READ: Irish startups need to ‘get better at talking and thinking big’ >

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About the author:

Peter Bodkin  / Editor, Fora

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