Top firms champion tech careers

25 Aug 2008

Following somewhat disappointing results in this years leaving maths and the hard sciences along with a low uptake in these subjects in last week’s CAO offerings for third level there has been a call to arms among firms in the Irish technology sector to cultivate an interest in high-tech careers amongst school goers.

Over 50 technology firms have joined up with ICT Ireland and Engineers Ireland for a ‘Champions Programme’ that will see young people with successful high-tech careers in these companies go out and visit around 250 secondary schools around the country and tell them about their jobs and why they enjoy the challenges a career in this sector brings.

The technology firms include Google, Dell, Ericsson, IBM, Intel, Analog Devices, Microsoft, Iona Technologies, Oracle, Apple and Cisco.

There is a fear that going forward Ireland’s technology boom will not have the same growth as was enjoyed in the Celtic Tiger era: that technology and science graduates are not in demand.

However ICT Ireland and Engineers Ireland say that this initiative is in response to concerns in the industry that the sector will actually be undersupplied by graduates in the years to come and that this is in fact beginning to happen at present.

A recent report from the Expert Group on Future Skills Needs predicted that the tech sector will continue to supply jobs and growth for our economy based on previous growth and trends across IT, software, electronics and web-based industry.

Kathryn Raleigh, director of ICT Ireland said that “a steady supply of high class technology graduates is vital” in order to maintain the current presence of technology firms like Intel, Microsoft, Apple and HOP that we already have her in Ireland, and also to attract new employers.

Raleigh hopes that if secondary schools students see and hear success stories amongst young people working in technology that this will serve as motivation to consider a similar career themselves: “By letting graduates currently working in high-tech companies tell their own stories we hope to inspire young people about technology.”

In this vein Microsoft Ireland has also taken the initiative to inspire youngters to head for a carre3er in the technology sector with the introduction of the DigiTeenz camp that will be held at its Leopardstown campus on 8 October this year.

Of course inspired or not there is always salary levels to think of and John Power, Director General of Engineers Ireland, pointed out that salaries in the engineering secdtor are quite competitive: “Our recent salary survey highlights that graduate engineers earn up to €31,000 in their first year and there are currently over 5000 engineering jobs being advertised in Ireland.

“The salary is there, the job opportunities are there. All we require now is engineers.”

Pictured: Grainne Reilly, STEPS to Engineering, Aoife O’Brien, ICT Ireland and Catherine Brown from Hewlett-Packard