ICT is a thriving sector in Ireland. With eight of the top ten global software companies and nine of the top ten US tech companies choosing to locate here, Ireland has become a hotbed for ICT innovation. Our small island is at the cutting edge of IT and we are the technical hub of Europe.
The world has entered The Fourth Industrial Revolution; a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres. We are now seeing the convergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), Big Data and Analytics, Cloud Computing, Mobile Platforms and Social Media. The digital age revolutionises the way we live and how we do business. The huge advances made in technology both underpins and drives this fast paced and ever-changing modern world.
The impact of digitalisation is growing exponentially and employment within IT related careers is expected to increase at a rate that outstrips other professions. Ireland is at the forefront of ICT development, it is internationally recognised as a global hub for software development and is fast becoming the internet capital of Europe.
As ICT grows it permeates more deeply in our lives and in our everyday activities, as a result ICT has crept into just about every industry. Consequently, ICT roles are varied and span across just about every sector.
The career areas that are experiencing the most growth within ICT include: Big Data, Cloud Computing, Software, Gaming, Social Media and Smart Technologies. Opportunities in Ireland within these sectors are plentiful.
Did you know. . .
- Ireland houses 8 of the top 10 global software companies
- In 2018 there were 46 data centres located in Ireland
- Ireland’s data economy is estimated to be worth almost €10bn a year, and growing
- Ireland is the world’s second largest software exporter
- 16 of the top 20 global technology firms operate in Ireland
- Ireland has a deep pool of talent in software and this has produced over 1,000 indigenous software companies
- Ireland has over four decades of experience and growth in Gaming and is a significant contributor to the global Gaming industry
- National Geographic named Dublin as the world capital of Internet of Things (IoT)
Who is suited to working in ICT?
As ICT straddles so many sectors, and permeates so many industries, it is hard to find a role that doesn’t incorporate technology in some shape or form. The hardcore ICT roles in programming etc are in high demand as we depend more and more on Smart technologies.
To work in this sector, you need to acquire technical skills and knowledge. Completing an undergraduate degree in Computer Science, Software engineering, Maths or Physics will provide you with a solid foundation to build a career in ICT upon. ICT professionals should be able to think logically and have solid mathematical skills.
There was a time when being expert in the field of your degree was enough to excel in technology based careers but now, due to the blurring of lines across technology sectors, ICT professionals are expected to be knowledgeable and have technical fluency across a range of ICT areas. Technology is constantly growing and developing and as a result professionals are expected to keep learning to stay abreast of changes and keep up to date with advancements. This constant learning demands flexibility and adaptability. Having a genuine interest and enthusiasm for technology will help you to sustain the high level of upskilling required to thrive within this sector.
Working in ICT is team based, so being a good team player is essential. Employers are looking for employees with well developed transveral skills. These skills refer to creativity, problem solving, collaboration, project management and team skills. These skills are needed to effectively communicate, collaborate and organise work and ideas in a team based work environment.
Are there jobs in ICT?
Jobs are in high demand within this sector and the career paths available to ICT practitioners has never been more attractive. ICT professionals are highly sought after as companies strive to fill growing vacancies. Lucrative packages are offered to entice skilled ICT professionals. Due to an acute shortage of skilled workforce, many companies have had to look abroad to fill roles.
Technology is growing and penetrating our lives and industry at an unprecedented rate and as a result, employment in IT related careers is expected to increase at a rate that outpaces most other professions. The demand for ICT professionals will continue to surge across the globe to keep up with this rapid growth.
In Ireland, the government have responded to this demand by launching various initiatives to encourage more people to take up courses and training in ICT. The latest initiative, Technology Skills 2022, sets out to deliver over 47,000 ICT graduates between 2019 – 2022.
This initiative was launched in response to a report issued by the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs (EGFSN) which found that the demand for high-level ICT skills are forecast to grow, driven by strong market demand and the spread of digitalisation across all sectors of the economy. According to the EGFSN, the number of job openings for high-level ICT professionals is set to reach 18,000 a year by 2022.
What are the typical routes into this sector
ICT is a vast sector and as a result there are copious courses and routes into this sector. Perhaps the best place to start is by identifying what area of ICT you are interested in working in and what level of education you are most suited to.
CAO – You can find courses offered at levels 6,7 and 8 in Institutes of Technology and Universities across the country. Use Courefinder to identify courses in Computers and ICT.
Further Education – PLC colleges offer a vast array of ICT related courses at levels 5 and 6. Many of these courses are linked under the Higher Education Links Scheme (HELS) to courses in Institutes of Technology and Universities for students who wish to pursue their studies to degree level. Click here for a list of Computers and ICT related courses.
Apprenticeships - There are several apprenticeships that have been newly developed to meet the growing demands of the ICT sector. Apprenticeships are open to people of all educational and working backgrounds.
Apprenticeships allow applicants to earn while they learn and work towards a QQI award. Click here to review the apprenticeships currently available in the ICT sector.
FIT – Fasttrack into IT. FIT is an industry-led initiative which works in close collaboration with government departments and national education and training agencies such as SOLAS, ETBs and Third Level Institutions among others. Job seekers are central to the role of FIT, and in particular those who are vulnerable to long term unemployment.
Courses available range from short term courses of 22 weeks to 1 or 2 year courses where applicants can work towards a level 5 or level 6 award on the NFQ. FIT also promote apprenticeship opportunities in ICT. They are the co-ordinating provider of the following apprenticeships ICT Software Developer, Cybersecurity and ICT Network Engineer
Springboard+ - The Higher Education Authority (HEA) offers thousands of free places on over 200 courses leading to awards at certificate, degree and post-graduate level. The majority of courses are part-time for a maximum of 12 months and are open to all eligible applicants regardless of their employment status.
All courses lead to qualifications in enterprise sectors which are growing and need skilled personnel, included among these sectors is Information and Communications Technology (ICT).
Career Paths in ICT
ICT is a vast sector that is continuously splintering off into subsectors. There is an array of career paths that you could venture down. It is a good idea to do a general degree in computers and then you can specialise later. Ireland is an excellent location to develop a career in ICT. With some of the world’s leading ICT companies located here there are ample career opportunities for budding ICT professionals.
The following sectors are thriving and experiencing growth in Ireland:
Software: Ireland is the world’s second largest software exporter an has international recognition as a leading location for the software sector. Software engineers, software developers and software testers in quality assurance roles are needed to support and sustain the growth in this sector.
Big Data: According to the World Economic Forum, Data Analysts are expected to be in the Top Ten Jobs in Demand by 2020. Coupled with this there is a current skills shortage in this profession in Ireland and a growth rate of over 8 per cent; Ireland needs to create 21,000 jobs in data by 2020. These statistics show great job prospects and makes Data Analysis a very attractive career area for many up and coming professionals.
Cloud Computing: Cloud computing is rapidly growing in Ireland. Cloud specialists are in demand as businesses are increasingly turning to the cloud for file storage. Third level education in Ireland has responded to cloud industry by providing Masters degrees in cloud computing in several universities.
Gaming: Ireland is a significant contributor to the global gaming industry and has beenheavily involved in the production of specialised software known as ‘middleware.’ Software engineers and developers as well as animators all command pivotal roles in this sector along with Games Designers, Games Testers and Games Programmers.
Internet and Smart Technology: Technology has infiltrated just about every sector and how we live our personal lives. The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to Smart Technology. Development of IoT in Ireland is huge. It is supported by two ICT research centres based here: CRANN and Tyndall. The influence of ICT is blatantly apparent in the world of business.
Digital marketing uses social media platforms to promote and sell products. Ireland is a top location for internet development with some of the biggest names in social media based in Dublin such as Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Google. The internet offers plentiful opportunities in Ireland. Consider careers in areas such as; App development, Web development and design, Social Media Specialist or become a Social Media Influencer.
Advice for School Leavers
If you are considering a career in ICT you might consider some of the following tips:
- Study Computer Science for your Leaving Cert. Taking this course will give you a great insight into computing programming.
- Join the Computers Coding Club at school or if you don’t have one consider signing up for a CoderDoJo club to learn the basics of computer programming.
- Find work experience in an ICT company. Gaining work experience or work shadowing is a great way to get a feel for the ICT environment and to see first hand the different roles in ICT.
- Work on your maths. Invest time in studying maths. Having a good mathematical ability will help you to succeed in ICT.
- Research ICT related courses at Further and Higher Education. Spend time reading college prospectuses and attend college open days to help you find the course that suits you best.
- Consider applying for an apprenticeship in ICT.
- Create your own website or computer programme. Having your own personal project in ICT will help you to develop practical skills and give you a flavour of the work that would resemble a career in ICT.
Advice for Graduates
Now that you have your qualification you need to find the right role. The jobs market for ICT graduates has never been more favourable. Computer Science graduates have the highest level of employment with 77% of graduates employed nine months after graduation so it is most likely that you will not encounter too many problems finding employment.
However, having an undergraduate degree is often not enough anymore. It is merely a baseline to work from. You are expected to have knowledge and technical fluency across a range of ICT areas. This knowledge is acquired when you are in employment and working on a team. On top of this, employees are expected to have transversal skills. These skills refer to creativity, problem solving, collaboration, project management and team skills. Be prepared to show evidence of these skills if questioned about this at interview.
Consider applying for a graduate recruitment programme. This is a highly structured programme that typically runs over two years. The focus is on training and development and some programmes lead to a professional or postgraduate qualification.
You also have the option of continuing your studies to postgraduate level. Students may choose this option to become expert in a specialisation or they may choose to further their studies to be in a better position to secure a more senior role.
Advice for Adult Workers
If you are currently in employment and wish to enter into the ICT sector you have several options available to you.
- Complete a computer related course in Further Education. Applications to Further Education can be made directly to your chosen college.
- Undertake a degree in an ICT course. You can apply as a mature student to CAO to compete for a place in Higher Education. Alternatively, you can apply to the HEA for a Springboard+ course in ICT. There are also various private colleges offering ICT related courses across the country.
- Apprenticeship opportunities are also open to people from all educational and employment backgrounds. An apprenticeship will give you the opportunity to earn a wage during your training.
- If you already have a degree you may be interested in studying at postgraduate level in an ICT related course.
- If you are unemployed it might be a good idea to get in touch with FIT. FIT (Fast Track into IT) is an industry-led initiative which works closely with education and training agencies to support job seekers and those who are vulnerable to long-term unemployment. FIT have an array of courses on offer in the ICT sector. These courses vary in length from short term (22 weeks) to courses of one to two years duration.