Over 44,000 ICT jobs ‘to be available over next six years’

More than 44,000 Irish jobs in information and communications technology (ICT) could be available over the next six years, but the industry still needs to look overseas for more than a third of recruits for existing opportunities.

A report out today suggests the number of highly skilled people working in the computing, electronic and electrical engineering sectors will rise from over 68,000 last year to just over 91,000 in 2018.

However, when retirements, job switching, emigration and other factors are added, the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs predicts 44,500 new openings for people with the appropriate level of qualifications in the same period.

The Government advisory agency managed by Forfás said its research highlights the positiveemployment potential and large scope for job creation if the right steps are taken, with an important role for industry as well as for the education and training sectors.

Most of the jobs growth will be for those with computing skills, including software, programming and multi-media gaming.

Some of the areas focused on in the expert group’s report were cloud computing, big data, social media technologies, microelectronics, and nano-electronics.

“The ongoing ICT wave of innovation is driving strong demand for new ICT skills and competences, particularly to design, develop and deploy new applications and services.

“Some of these are core technology skills but others... require skillsets with a combination of skills, such as technology, statistics and business skillsets for big data, or technology and marketing skillsets for social media,” the report says.

The more complex skills needed will demand more of the education and training systems, but also from company training, it is predicted.

When a Government ICT Skills Action Plan was launched in Jan 2012, fewer than half the demands of industry were being met by domestic supply of ICT talent, but that will reach almost two thirds next year, Education Minister Ruairi Quinn said.

However, despite the progress, the report said the gap between supply and demand of necessary skills may act as a barrier to further ICT development and growth in the sector.

It is worth €70 billion of Irish exports a year, according to Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Minister Richard Bruton, who said that the report will further sustain the effort to ensure Ireland has the skills needed to grow the sector.

Among the recommendations are more internships for ICT undergraduates; expansion of degrees to allow people from different employment backgrounds to take part after shorter periods on social welfare; increased efforts to attract more people — especially women — to careers in ICT; a single website to attract experienced international professionals; and investment in upgrading labs and continuous staff training at universities and institutes of technology.

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