Wooden blocks are separated by a gap. An outline of a person is about to cross it while a large hand draws a line to bridge the gap. It symbolises the skills gap.
Image: © Gajus/Stock.adobe.com

How can Ireland’s tech industry bridge the skills gap?

21 Feb 2022

Code Institute’s Jane Gormley and TechIreland’s John O’Dea discuss the growing tech skills gap and what companies need to do about it.

There is a growing shortage of talent in the software development industry. A 2021 report from Solas found that 46pc of science, engineering and tech companies surveyed in Ireland struggled to fill IT roles such as software developers, IT engineers and mobile or web developers.

With third-level degrees often taking three or four years to complete, the speed at which higher education institutions can respond to the market needs for software development graduates means the skills gap will only continue to grow.

Jane Gormley is the director of career services at online coding educator Code Institute. She told SiliconRepublic.com that the current digital skills gap in Ireland “impacts us all”.

“Encouraging digital literacy and advancement is crucial. We have an opportunity to ensure longevity of a skilled workforce, retention of both indigenous businesses and FDI by demonstrating progress and advancement,” she said.

Code Institute is co-hosting the Dublin Tech Skills Forum with TechIreland on 9 March 2022. The event aims to tackle key themes around changing skills needs in tech and how tech recruitment strategies can be adapted to address those needs.

Gormley said that while the way in which companies are recruiting tech talent is changing, this change needs to speed up.

“New entrants to the industry are still regularly inhibited by language, job specs and job descriptions. We need to work on this if we want to attract the volumes we need,” she said.

“Centralising non-traditional routes into tech is crucial in order to ensure longevity. Taking vocational skills, career changers and apprenticeships models and recognising the crucial response they are making to speeding up access to this industry would speak volumes to the talent community available and able to contribute.”

TechIreland CEO John O’Dea agreed that companies need to “adopt hybrid and holistic approaches” to the growing skills gaps, particularly as emerging tech continues to evolve.

“More and more companies are building disruptive technologies like artificial intelligence and the internet of things. The demand for these skills is growing faster than the education pipeline is delivering,” he said.

“A combination of attracting fresh talent but also developing and upskilling their current teams will be essential. A number of businesses are already leading the way with self-paced learning pathways and incentivising employees upskilling.”

Upskilling opportunities

There have been several initiatives and new courses launched in recent months to address tech skills gaps in Ireland.

Last year, Microsoft launched a digital skills training programme to support 10,000 people in Ireland impacted by Covid-19. Later in the year, Dublin-based education non-profit An Cosán introduced a new suite of digital tools in an effort to tackle Ireland’s digital skills shortage.

Earlier this month, the Irish Government also published the Digital Ireland Framework, which aims to make digital skills a key focus for the country, including having more than 12,400 graduates with higher-level skills by the end of this year.

Meanwhile, third-level institutions are adding a variety of tech courses to their portfolios, covering everything from data centre to cybersecurity skills.

Gormley said jobseekers should look at the investments currently going into digital-focused education and take the opportunity to upskill.

“The resources are available and your efforts will pay off to future-proof your earnings, job satisfaction and career options,” she said.

“Employees too should consider training and skills acquisition as an expected and standard part of their career. Many employers offer this, so utilising these resources is a key part of protecting your skillset.”

Dublin Tech Skills Forum will take place on 9 March 2022. Those interested can register for free.

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Jenny Darmody
By Jenny Darmody

Jenny Darmody became the editor of Silicon Republic in 2023, having worked as the deputy editor since February 2020. When she’s not writing about the science and tech industry, she’s writing short stories and attempting novels. She continuously buys more books than she can read in a lifetime and pretty stationery is her kryptonite. She also believes seagulls to be the root of all evil and her baking is the stuff of legends.

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