Demonware boss warns of skills gap in Irish computer science courses

27 May 2011

Tony Kelly, CEO of Demonware, pointed out a huge skills gap between Irish and Canadian graduates of computer science programmes, saying they hired 95pc of Canadian interns compared to 10pc of Irish interns.

The Ireland-established company, a subsidiary of Activision which provides online software and services for video games, has offices in Dublin and Vancouver, allowing for this insight into recent graduates.

Speaking to before yesterday’s Intel Transforming Education In Ireland event, Kelly pointed out that the quality of Canadian graduates of computer science courses is “astonishing.”

“Each year, we take on interns in both locations and to date we have probably offered full-time permanent positions to something like 95pc of the Canadian interns versus 10pc or less in Ireland,” said Kelly.

“It can take anything up to six months to get recent graduates up to speed and contributing significantly to a production codebase. Contrast that with earlier this year, where we took on an intern from the University of Victoria in Vancouver in January, and within two weeks were deploying that intern’s code to our production servers, ready to be used by hundreds of millions of users in our live titles,” said Kelly.


When asked about the current Irish education system and its ability to come up with the skills for the gaming sector, Kelly felt it was “a mixed bag.”

“On the whole, I would say very few of our current courses are fit for purpose. Many software development courses are still geared towards desktop applications – and with the advent of and growing importance of online today in video games, web and even with general and traditional IT functions moving online, I think we’re missing a very large opportunity,” he said.

“There have been widespread criticisms for many years now that many ITs and universities soften entry requirements for courses chasing bums on seat to protect their funding, which as an employer I think is extremely short sighted. I’d question the fitness of many of the CS networking modules, specifically.

“There are of course exceptions to the above – Dublin IT, in particular, is doing great work on their games development courses. The industry itself can always do more to help here, too,” he said.

Kelly also said that he agreed with the findings in the Livingstone-Hope report on education. The report found that in the UK, only 3pc of 11-18-year-olds believe maths is important for a career in games development.

The report also recommended that computer science should play a bigger part of the second-level curriculum.

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