Interaction Design Course Launched to Address ICT Skills Gaps

NCAD launches MA responding to industry demands

Education content must reflect and harness the rapidly-evolving nature of the internet and its potential.  That’s according to Professor Declan McGonagle, Director of the National College of Art and Design (NCAD), who was speaking today at the launch of a new MA in Interaction Design.

The MA was officially launched by Damien English TD, Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Skills, Research and Innovation.  It has been developed by NCAD in partnership with UCD and leading industry players.

Commenting at the launch, Professor McGonagle said: “New skills like coding, data visualisation, user experience design and user interface design have not been widely taught up to now because there has not been a major demand for them, or a real understanding of what they entail.  But, in recent years, with the rapid growth of the ICT sector and the constantly-evolving nature of the internet, these skills have come to be in high demand. 

“It is critical that Irish graduates are fully equipped with the skills they need in order to gain employment, create sustainable social and economic value, and meet the demands of leading industries.  Ireland has become a global ICT leader, with a range of technology-enabled companies delivering products and services locally and internationally.  However, the skills shortages in the ICT industry are well-documented, including in the areas of user experience and user interface design.  This new MA in Interaction Design continues NCAD’s long tradition of equipping graduates with game-changing design skills.”   

The MA programme is the first of its kind in Ireland: it has been developed with input from industry leaders such as, Intercom, Each and Other (formerly IQ Content) and CIID Consulting.  According to NCAD, the course responds directly to needs identified by industry, and draws on the expertise of the two institutions involved – NCAD and UCD – to offer participants a rounded skills-set. 

Expanding Growth Area for Jobs
It is estimated that, by 2020, up to 79,000 extra full-time jobs* will have been created as a result of the internet economy in Ireland. 

“There has been a huge shift in the way we operate and interact online, and the number of mobile applications and responsive websites has exploded in recent years.  Because of this, understanding user experience is a key concern,” said Professor McGonagle. 

“The MA in Interaction Design is uniquely positioned to equip graduates with the necessary skills to allow them to tap into this area of growth.  The programme will benefit from ongoing input from industry through industry-led briefs and visiting faculty.  In addition, students will engage in projects that have real-world context, and connect with local community, businesses, public sector and social organisations.”

NCAD graduates go on to work with some of the leading ICT companies in Ireland and internationally, including IBM, Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Nokia and BBC. 

Input from Minister English
Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Skills, Research and Innovation, Damien English TD, officially launched the MA, stating: “In a competitive global economy, Ireland must continue to punch above its weight.  This requires having a workforce whose skills are aligned to the sectors with strong growth potential. This MA aims to achieve this objective and has been developed in direct response to industry demand.

“It is also reflective of the Action Plan for Jobs measures to be delivered in 2015. Creating access to a pool of skilled graduates is critical for Irish companies to improve their competitiveness, increase their innovation capabilities and develop new products and services.”

Industry Case Studies
Representatives from leading ICT companies in Ireland also spoke at this evening’s launch, including NCAD graduate Frank Long, Director of the award-winning user experience and interface design consultancy,, and Kathryn Parkes, Director of UX and Design at Swrve.

• is an international user experience (UX) and interface design consultancy. Founded in 1998, it creates solutions focused on end-user needs and abilities, aiming to make complex tasks easier and help clients deliver better products and services to their customers. has a diverse client list, representing financial, medical, web, software and government sectors in over 20 countries around the world.  The company recently won two awards at the prestigious International Design Awards in San Francisco, including the Grand Prix. 

• Swrve is a mobile games and app marketing and optimisation platform, focused on optimising the relationship between consumers and brands.  The company offers ‘mobile first’ marketing solutions, delivering an understanding of the consumer and automating individual, personalised, conversations.  As a result, it enables marketing teams to build strong and profitable relationships with their target audiences. 

Following the launch, the first in a series of public discussions entitled ‘Interaction Ireland’ was held.  This session drew on the experiences of leading practitioners, showcasing local work in the field and highlighting the role of interaction design in everyday life.  Speakers included: Frank Long,; Kathyrn Parkes, Swrve; Sam Russell, Head of Industrial Design, NCAD and Director,; and Emma Creighton, MA Interaction Design Coordinator and Lecturer, NCAD.

Click here for further information on this programme. 

Media Contact: Martina Quinn / Sarah Harte, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-6522033 / 087-9858259

*The Second UPC Amárach Report on Ireland’s Digital Future: