Ireland facing ‘severe shortage’ of high-tech grads


2 Jan 2008

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As the February deadline looms for Leaving Cert students to pick their college course of choice, ICT Ireland, the lobby group within IBEC for the Irish tech sector, encourages young people to consider a career in technology – an area with ‘huge opportunities’.

ICT Ireland director Kathryn Raleigh said, “At a time when the high-tech sector is increasing in importance and offering more employment opportunities, Ireland still faces a severe shortage of people with the right computer and engineering skills.”

Government funding for Ireland’s knowledge economy has increased significantly over the past few years, including the Embark Postdoctoral Fellowship Scheme (2008) from the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology (IRCSET) which offers €4.8m to postdoctoral researchers in the areas of science, technology and engineering.

This large-scale funding stands in stark contrast to the predicted shortfall in high-tech graduates over the coming years, despite the ‘very attractive’ salaries in these areas.

“According to the Higher Education Authority (HEA) graduate survey, 16.5pc of graduates with engineering degrees now earn €33,000 or more. When compared to 3.6pc of law graduates and 5.8pc of commerce graduates in the same salary band, it is clear that graduates with an engineering degree can command higher starting salaries than most.

“A degree in a technical discipline offers a wide range of career opportunities. Within the technology sector there is an enormous variety, ranging from highly technical roles in design and development, to roles in sales and marketing,” continued Raleigh.

Raleigh also likened a technical degree to the classic arts degree in terms of the all-round educational experience it offers and the possibility of applying it to many other disciplines and career opportunities.

“The majority of today’s college graduates will have more than one career during their life, and engineering can provide a strong foundation for almost any one of them,” she said.

ICT Ireland also cited a recent report by global market intelligence firm IDC which points to the growing importance of technology in the global economy, with IT employment expected to grow 4.7pc worldwide by 2011.

By Marie Boran