While the high-tech software industry is currently worth €12bn in exports (this includes multinationals as well), indigenous software firms here in Ireland account for a very healthy €2bn of this overall figure, meaning that we punch far above our weight in the sector.
This puts us up there in the top league of both producers and exporters of software, said the Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Mary Coughlan TD, as she made a speech to Irish financial software and services firms and UK customers at a networking event in the Irish embassy in London yesterday.
We have come a long way in the last decade when total exports for Irish software firms amounted to under €100m, and this leap forward was a message that the industry wanted to send today as it targeted the UK as a customer of Irish tech firms, especially in the area of financial, telecoms, the public sector and e-learning.
However, with over 300 Irish firms supplying the UK already, a large percentage of our software exports in 2007 – some 40pc – already head over the Irish sea in transactions worth €792m to the Irish economy. Ireland is also one of the top software exporters in Europe and one of the top three globally.
Despite this success, many industry leaders have talked about the skills shortage in the ICT sector here in Ireland, with Havok’s chief executive David O’Meara previously telling siliconrepublic.com: “The computer science graduates coming out of universities are too few in quality and quantity. It’s unlikely that we would offer a job to more than one graduate in a year or two. It’s a bad situation.”
Added to this, Pauline O’Loughlan of Ernst & Young has said that 70pc of technology firms here in Ireland believe there is a real and very genuine skills shortage: “While we need to be good at attracting and retaining foreign nationals to fill these jobs, we need to be upskilling local nationals to compete for these jobs too.
“The percentage of employers that have experienced a shortage in the tech sector was higher than we anticipated,” she added.
By Marie Boran