ICT is the fastest expanding industry in Ireland. There is a relentless demand for new employees with the right ICT skills. Demand cuts across virtually every industry. Approximately 60% of ICT professionals are employed in the broad ICT sector, while 40% are employed in other sectors of the economy. Demand for ICT professionals will grow at 5% a year until 2018 and there is expected to be 44,500 job openings in the period 2014- 2018. The European Commission estimates that Europe could face an 800,000 person ICT skills shortage by 2020. The shortage of talent in ICT is a global problem. This is due to unprecedented growth and innovation in the sector. What matters most is what the government is doing to grow the supply of tech talent for the industry in Ireland. The ICT sector is constantly transforming, this impacts the demand for certain skills, and creates new areas of expertise. Subsectors with the most vacancies include programming technologies, mobile technologies, games development, web development, cloud computing, platform administration, digital and creative media, networking, CRM, project management, data analytics, and contact centre support.
A report by FIT, an industry-led research group, in 2014, suggests that many of the 5,000 or so vacancies could be filled by people that have completed a 6-24 month conversion course. Springboard, and other ICT skills conversion courses, have been addressing this problem and have made a large number of course places available. Springboard launched 21 ICT courses as part of its 2014 curriculum and offered 40 ICT conversion courses in the 2015/16 academic year increasing it to 55 ICT conversion courses for the 2016/17 academic year.
The STEM programme encourages students to pursue science, engineering, and technology careers by promoting the benefits of working in these professions to secondary students. Since 2012, and the introduction of bonus points for taking higher level maths in the leaving certificate, there has been a 58% increase in the numbers taking higher level maths. The number of NFQ Level 8 graduates has doubled since 2012, and there has been 2,000 graduates from ICT conversion courses at Level 8 or higher, up to 2014. The level of industry demand being met through domestic higher education output has increased from 45% in 2012 to over 60% in 2014. This is considerable progress in a short amount of time, nevertheless, with almost 40% of demand either being supported by international recruitment, or going unmet, there is still a lot of progress to be made before the skills shortage problem is resolved. Overall, the outlook is positive, with the Higher Education Authority (HEA) projecting a 69% increase in Level 8 computing graduates, a 50% increase in Masters level computer graduates, a 106% increase in level 8 electronic engineering graduates, and a 164% increase in Masters level electronic engineering graduates, for the period 2013-2018. Initiatives such as Coderdojo, which teaches young kids to code, are key to stimulating an interest in this sector at an early age in the next generation of students.
Demand & Career Prospects
We are seeing strong demand for ICT professionals and the career prospects for those entering the industry are excellent. There has been significant progress in increasing the supply of ICT professionals to meet expanding industry demand. This has gone some way to alleviating the skills shortage in the sector. International recruitment will continue to be an important factor in the Irish ICT sector, but the increase in domestic output must be maintained at its current pace for the sector to continue to thrive on these shores. Despite the tight skill supply we are seeing the better tech companies filling the majority of their positions without much difficulty. These firms typically offer the best packages to recruits and are able to attract the very best talent as a result. The country is moving in the right direction and the medium term outlook is strong. The correct steps have been taken to increase the skills supply, and are already beginning to bear fruit.
Talent remains the central criteria for this industry. Shortages in key skills are impacting the industry across the world, and the regions that produce the best talent, and can meet industry demands, will go the furthest in attracting ICT investment. We expect the strong pipeline of talent that has been developed in recent years to largely satisfy the growing demands of the tech industry in Ireland. Ireland’s prospects within the global tech industry look very positive.
Collins McNicholas Recruitment & HR Services Group