The number of people employed in top-level electronic research has risen by 90pc since 1998, according to IDA Ireland.
Firms operating in the sector also expect the headcount to increase by more than 50pc over the next five years.
Despite the decline in confidence in the global information and communications technology (ICT) sector, an IDA survey published this afternoon shows that the key area of integrated circuit design, involving the development of silicon chips, is growing strongly in Ireland.
IDA Ireland chief executive, Sean Dorgan, welcomes the results as evidence of progress in Ireland’s transformation into a knowledge-based economy but says the ongoing challenge is the need to have a sufficient supply of suitably qualified graduates to work in the area.
“In the past year alone, we have successfully won such major investments as RF Integration, which has established a new design centre in Cork with an investment of €11m. Such companies employ people with high skills and carry out high-value added activities which is in line with the IDA’s policy to attract the newer and value-added investments to Ireland,” he says.
Tom O’Dwyer, chairman of the Microelectronic Industry Design Association (MIDAS) Ireland, says the message to graduates is that if they have the skills, there are job opportunities for them. “There is demand for people with degrees, masters and PhDs and this demand will continue to grow, according to the results of this survey,” he says.
“This new survey supports our own projections that the research needs of the industry are expected to increase by 58pc between now and 2006. This is the kind of timeframe which should be considered by Leaving Certificate students when they are making career and course choices,” O’Dwyer adds.
The IDA Ireland/MIDAS Ireland skills survey found that 1,397 people were employed in integrated circuit design at the end of 2002, compared to 735 in 1998. In addition, employment was projected to rise by 56pc to 2,182 in 2007.
The survey was based on the existing and forecast employment profile within the design units of 17 firms who are members of MIDAS Ireland. These include multinationals such as Analog Devices, Intel, Motorola and Xilinx.
By Lisa Deeney