To ICT, or not to ICT?
By Will Goodbody, Science and Technology Correspondent
This weekend Leaving Cert students across the country will have some thinking to do.
Their exams may be over – already a fading bad dream from which they have awoken.
But Monday July 1st is the closing date for the return of CAO Change of Mind forms.
And it is this choice, coupled with the results due in a few weeks time, that will for many dictate what direction their future careers take.
It was in this context that the Irish Computer Society (ICS) issued a statement urging young people to consider choosing a career in IT. “The world is changing at a phenomenal rate and so too are career opportunities,” said ICS chief executive, Jim Friars.
“Demand is very high for graduates and professionals with IT/digital skills ready to work in cutting-edge technology and innovation. It is a vibrant sector and often the jobs are cool, giving you the opportunity to quite literally write the future of technology”.
“Ireland is in a unique position with so many top technology and software companies based here, both international and grass roots Irish organisations that offer distinct perspectives on international markets,” Friars added.
“With thousands of IT job vacancies in Ireland, not to mention prospects around the world, a career in IT is a terrific choice for young people”.
Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it?
But what exactly is the true state of the ICT jobs market here?
Measuring it is an inexact science.
Hardly a week goes by without some tech company announcing scores of new positions over a predicted timeframe.
However, verifying how many jobs are in reality actually created is a tricky business, with most businesses usually keen not to get into publicly discussing headcount figures.
There are also a significant amount of jobs created and, of course, extinguished in the background, which we never hear about publicly.
One recent insight, however, came from recruitment company Prosperity’s Digital Employment Survey 2013.
It surveyed the hiring habits of the top 15 ecommerce multinationals here, 12 of them US, three Irish.
Combined, they made approximately 3,000 new hires over the last 12 months, with 250 of these positions coming in the Irish firms.
50% of the jobs involved client facing roles in areas like account management, sales and other client support duties, and required fluent English and one other European language.
Most of the companies required degree level education, with the majority of hires being graduates of UCD, DIT and DCU, UCC and TCD.
The study also found that salaries in the sector haven’t moved significantly since 2011, except for increases at lower levels.
But perhaps most telling is that the survey found the time to fill the jobs has increased significantly in recent years, due to a lack of eligible candidates and more extensive interviewing process undertaken by multinationals.
That echoes the findings of the Fastrack to IT ICT Skills Audit results, released last month, which found there are more than 4,500 immediate vacancies in the sector in Ireland today.
It based its findings on a survey of 38 companies and representative SME’s that together employ in excess of 25,000 people in the IT sector in Ireland.
The vacancies were from entry level positions through to expert level, and in a variety of areas, including Mobile Technologies/Development Platform, Games Development, Web Development, Cloud Computing/Virtualisation and Digital/Creative Media.
Put it all together, toss in a significant amount of anecdotal evidence, and it is hard to dispute claims that there are many, many unfilled IT jobs out there at every level.
And such is the trend that for the Leaving Cert students of today, making that final decision this weekend, it is hard to see those opportunities disappearing in the next few years.
So, in the words of the Irish Computer Society – “Choose IT and the world is your oyster”.