The Information and Communication Technology Industry in Ireland
The information and communication technology (ICT) sector generally employs about 70,000 people and is responsible for about one third of Ireland’s total exports. The trend in the subsectoral employment mix is currently away from electronic manufacturing where many of the lower skilled jobs in the sector were concentrated and towards software which predominantly employs people with high-level ICT skills, according to the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs 2008. Most top international companies in the world have significant bases of operations here. For example, Microsoft, Lotus/IBM, Novell, Oracle, Symantec, Ebay, Google, HP and Intel.
The software industry in Ireland is worth about €12 Billion in exports with about €2 Billion of this accounted for by 600 indigenous Irish companies, the rest from multinationals. It has particular strengths in systems software and middleware; insurance and banking applications; telecommunications software; e-learning; and healthcare and employment levels in the sector are approaching 50,000. One of the major needs identified by software companies is for more people with expertise in computing and with other domain specific knowledge such as a business qualification.
A desperate shortage of Irish computing graduates is forcing high-tech firms to recruit from overseas. Ernst & Young has said that 70pc of technology firms here in Ireland believe there is a real and very genuine skills shortage: While we need to be good at attracting and retaining foreign nationals to fill these jobs, we need to be up skilling local nationals to compete for these jobs too.
The Third Level Computing Forum is a representative body from Universities, Government Agencies and Business set up by the National Software Directorate and supported by the Department of Enterprise. The Forum suggests in 2009 that as other parts of the Irish economy suffer, the software sector continues to prosper, with demand for graduates with computing and related skills greater than the supply.
Recruitment websites are currently showing significant numbers of job vacancies in the I.T. sector and we are certainly looking at a huge number of unfilled posts. Given the jobs crisis that we are in, it will come as a huge shock to people to think that there are still thousands of jobs available in a sector that provides secure and well paid employment.
Many “lost” jobs are simply moving to service providers as businesses use outsourced IT solutions, Virtualization and Cloud computing services. There are various job opportunities in areas such as Help Desk and general IT support and admin, Web and mobile application development, Datacenter maintenance and operations, Project Management and Service Integration skills.
As well as the job opportunities, computing as an interesting area of study with a broad educational value that opens many doors. The flexibility of career paths, and the wide range of business, social, medical and artistic areas with which computing interacts can make it particularly attractive to women.