Female students can STEM the tide of Ireland’s IT gap

8 Jan 2015

The employee market which IT companies in Ireland must seek staff from is notoriously imbalanced, and women hold the key.

With particular shortages in areas such as microelectronic engineering, tech companies have to continually battle to find the right staff, and keep them happy.

With the abundance of employers in Ireland, engineers, developers and the likes can shop around for the right fit, knowing the onus is on the employer to keep them.

But if Gerry Murray, country manager at EMC Ireland, is to be believed, female students could help plug the talent gap by choosing STEM subjects as a career choice.

“With the CAO deadline looming, we’re asking prospective undergraduates to consider a career in IT,” Murray said at the BT Young Scientist & Technology Exhibition in Dublin.

“Despite its position as a global tech leader, Ireland has been suffering a skills shortage for years, and companies usually must complement our local talent with skills from abroad.

“Young Irish women are ideally suited to fill this gap. Indeed, women in general are poised to make a huge difference to the tech sector, as their perspectives offer new and innovative ways of doing business and designing products and services.”

Indeed this isn’t the first time that female involvement in STEM subjects, or the education of youngsters in general, has been called the cure to the industry’s woes.

Smart futures for smart kids

Last month, Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) urged students and their parents to consider the broad spectrum of career and life opportunities STEM offers.

The Smart Futures programme, which is managed by SFI Discover and co-ordinated in partnership with Engineers Ireland, is an online resource for students and parents, featuring real-life career stories and video interviews with people working in a range of industries.

Parents are encouraged to visit the Smart Futures website to help support their children in making CAO and career decisions.

Chip giant Intel, as well, recently produced an infographic to show how to better engage females in the whole tech industry. Hands-on experience, claimed Intel, is the way forward all across the globe.

“Intel is demonstrating how the maker movement has helped turn a generation of tech-savvy girls, nearly all of whom grew up in the digital age, into the leaders and entrepreneurs of the economy of tomorrow,” said Anna Maria Chavez, CEO of the Girl Scouts of the USA, at the time.

Ireland, the land of tech opportunities

Other approaches to filling the talent gap include an innovative new ‘earn and learn’ programme, due to be rolled out in Ireland next month.

Elsewhere, Hays, a recruiter in Ireland that specialises in the tech industry, has called for colleges to help engage students in the idea of constant learning, taking note of foreign workers in Ireland and their attitude towards continual improvement.

“Over here, the complaint that employers often have about the graduates is they are fine from the technical and theoretical point of view, but they are a little bit clueless when it comes to what things are actually like in the workplace. It can take two years to get up to speed,” said Richard Eardley, managing director of Hays Ireland.

Indeed the broad growth of new technologies, such as cloud computing and big data, are creating more and more employment opportunities all across Ireland.

“Ireland is a destination of choice for global IT skills, and demand for IT graduates is only set to increase. This offers a tremendous opportunity for Irish students over the next five to 10 years, at home and abroad,” said Murray.

Young girl doing a science experiment image via Shutterstock

Women Invent Tomorrow is Silicon Republic’s campaign to champion the role of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It has been running since March 2013, and is kindly supported by Accenture Ireland, Intel, the Irish Research Council, ESB, Twitter, CoderDojo and Science Foundation Ireland.

Inspire 2015 is Silicon Republic’s international event running 18-19 June in Dublin that connects sci-tech professionals passionate about the future of STEM with fresh perspectives on leadership, innovation and diversity.

Gordon Hunt
By Gordon Hunt

Gordon Hunt joined Silicon Republic in October 2014 as a journalist. He spends most of his time avoiding conversations about music, appreciating even the least creative pun and rueing the day he panicked when meeting Paul McGrath. His favourite thing on the internet is the ‘Random Article’ link on Wikipedia.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading