Liberty IT’s William Hamilton spoke to Siliconrepublic.com about the talent shortage, the Belfast tech scene and how to succeed in the industry.
For the month of March, we’re zooming in on Belfast’s thriving sci-tech scene. To get a better view, it’s always better to head to the city itself and talk to those who are immersed in the tech scene.
So, Siliconrepublic.com set off to meet William Hamilton, managing director of Liberty IT, to find out his thoughts on Belfast as a tech and start-up hub.
“The Belfast start-up scene is really quite vibrant at the moment,” he said. “There’s a large number of new companies entering it every year.”
Indeed, Belfast has plenty of incubators for those new companies to work together. Hamilton also spoke highly of the support from the local universities, namely Ulster University and Queen’s University Belfast, both of which have very industry-relevant degrees.
“There’s great support in Belfast for the tech scene,” said Hamilton. “One of the primary events is BelTech, which runs annually, but there’s also a lot of smaller groups, smaller events [and] smaller conferences.”
Ireland attracts a lot of investment and, as one of the three biggest cities on the island, Belfast is a natural place to bring in some of the top sci-tech companies.
However, despite a wealth of bright minds and talent, there is still a need for a healthier pipeline of tech workers. Hamilton said the talent shortage is one of the main challenges the tech industry is facing right now.
“While we have incredibly bright people, we just don’t have enough of them,” he said. “One of the things we’re doing to solve the problem is to do a broad schools outreach.”
Part of this outreach involved making sure that everyone in those schools had the opportunity to understand the careers available and the sheer fun they could have within the technology industry. “If you enjoy technology, you will definitely be successful in this industry.”
Top tips for working in tech
With more than 20 years under his belt as managing director of Liberty IT and a further 10 years in the tech industry previous to that, Hamilton has plenty of advice for those just starting out in the industry.
His first tip? Join a good company. “A company that will train you, that’ll support you, that’ll challenge you, that’s got diversity of work, that’ll allow you to gain different experiences.”
However, while a supportive company that will help you upskill is a good place to start, Hamilton said that your own initiative is essential.
“It’s ultimately your career; it’s ultimately your job and your future. So, you have to be prepared to invest in it; you have to be self-driven,” he said.
“You have to be prepared to go to meet-ups at night, do a bit of reading, put your hand up for the difficult, challenging, complex tasks so that people know that you’re willing to engage and also that you’re able to grow.”