2,500 IT jobs unfilled despite 450,000 on dole

MORE than 2,500 jobs in Ireland’s booming technology sector remain unfilled at a time when close to 450,00 people are on the Live Register.

In addition, up to 500 nursing posts are vacant in private nursing homes around the country and that figure is expected to rise to 1,400 over the next 12 months.

The extent of employment opportunity in IT was highlighted yesterday at the launch of a new industry-linked digital media programme — WebElevate — designed to plug the digital skills gap in a sector where the pace of development is far outstripping the ability of third-level institutions to keep up with demand for suitably qualified graduates.

Professor Ciaran Murphy, head of the department of accounting, finance and information systems at University College Cork (UCC) and Professor of Business Information Systems (BIS), said part of the problem was government enthusiasm for supporting the IT sector had waned and consequently, funding levels for relevant third-level courses had dropped.

“There was great emphasis back in the late ’90s on making sure Ireland produced enough graduates in information technology. The Government was encouraging and explicit funding was given to institutions to provide programmes at graduate and undergraduate level. It worked a treat, and there was a three to four-fold increase in the number of students taking up those courses.

“But after the dot com bubble bombed, people thought there were fewer jobs, which was not in fact the case. With the exception of 2002, the number of job opportunities in the area has been growing ever since,” Prof Murphy said.

He said the general public was largely unaware of the huge range of job opportunities available in the sector, particularly in financial services.

“It really is a win-win situation and we do need to be getting more people in there. We need to go back to placing an emphasis on this sector and to making sure more explicit funding is in place for undergraduate and postgraduate programmes.”

Prof Murphy said if Ireland does not maintain its “positive momentum” in the area of IT, “multinationals will look elsewhere, and it could be very detrimental in the long term”.

Meanwhile, Tadhg Daly, chief executive of Nursing Homes Ireland (NHI), said staff/patient ratios in private nursing homes were not being compromised by job vacancies. He said NHI was highlighting the deficit as part of long term workforce planning to ensure their needs could be met going forward.

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