Technology and computer skills are essential assets for workers in all industries. Even if the career you choose does not focus solely on Computers, the job will most likely require the use of computers and technology to accomplish tasks and process information. The latest Census results show a 15 per cent increase in employment within the areas of computer and related activities.
An overview of the ICT sector in Ireland today.
Chris Horne is an Electronics Engineer; co-founder of the highly successful Iona Technologies and current Chair of Engineers Ireland and the Science Gallery in Trinity College.
Aoibhinn Ni Shuilleabhain has a background in Theoretical Physics and has recently completed a Post-Graduate Diploma in Education. She actively promotes science and mathematics through her work with ‘Discover Science and Engineering’, and with the Science Gallery in Trinity College.
The Computer industry itself can be divided into hardware and software. The hardware is all the machinery and equipment, the nuts and bolts of a computer and its add-ons such as a printer, scanners and speakers. However, in order to function the computer needs information about its task and it needs to be programmed to do what you want it to. This is the software.
Hardware Ireland is a leading European centre for the manufacturing and assembly of computer parts. Manufacturers such as IBM, Hewlett Packard and Dell are all involved in the design and production of components used in computers all around the world.
Computer hardware starts in the research and development (R&D) departments of manufacturing companies. Teams of engineers (mechanical, electronic, electric, manufacturing, CAD, software etc) work to design, test and produce the latest components. When a product is found to satisfy a market need, manufacturing processes are developed to produce the finished product. In complex products, like a PC, multiple parts must be assembled to precise specifications.
Work in this area spans the R&D work carried out by highly qualified engineers, scientists and technicians to those who work in the final assembly and packaging of the products (PC's, printers, scanners, webcams etc). Because of the range of opportunities that exist, people of all ages and educational experience can be found in this sector.
Software During the past decade, Ireland has gained increasing recognition as Europe’s premier location for software development. Since the 1980s, most leading US software vendors, including Microsoft, Oracle and Symantec, have based their European operations centres in and around Dublin.
The country has also become the number one site for software development in Europe. All the big players such as Microsoft, Google, Ebay, Symantec and Amazon are now based in Ireland.
Alongside the big international players Ireland also has a thriving software development industry that has been created in Ireland by Irish computer graduates. It comprises of over 600 companies, about 250 of which have significant levels of overseas sales. Ireland has now overtaken the USA as the biggest exporter of software in the world. 60% of all software sold in Europe originates in Ireland.
Visit http://itshappeninghere.ie/ for more information on vacancies in one of the world's most vibrant and exciting software centres - Ireland.
Some of the areas career roles can be found are:
Software Development: This is the process of developing software to meet the requirements of the end users (the customers). This would include roles such as the Systems Analyst - individuals who analyse and design software systems that meet requirements. Programmers and Developers are invloved in writing the code or instructions that tell the computer what tasks to carry out. Programmers need to learn the computer languages (e.g. C++, Java, COBAL) which are used to develop software, and because there are many languages, and they keep getting more powerful, students and workers in this area need to constantly keep up with the latest developments.
Software Engineering: These roles combine experience in computer science, engineering, and maths to design, define, and organise many aspects of a complex software product.
Quality Assurance & Testing: Every piece of software that is written must be tested extensively, and this requires the work of QA engineers.
Technical Writing: Technical writers are professional writers who design, create, maintain and update many types of technical documentation, online help, user guides, white papers, design specifications, and other documents. Involves the writing of computer manuals for the customers of new computer software
Technical Support: Support that is given to the computer hardware or software user from the manufacturer of the equipment or developer of the software. This includes help in installing and using the products.
Database Management:The people who design and maintain databases of all sizes.
Web Design: The design of websites for businesses and organisations
Project Management: Just about all software design involves complex projects that need to be managed. IT Project managers are the people in charge of delivering a project on time and within budget.
Marketing and Sales: The research and promotion, advertising and sales of computer products.
Useful Career Sheets from STEPS to Engineering [pdf files]
Computer & Software Engineering
Approximately 84,000 people are employed by ICT companies in Ireland. Not all those working in the IT sector started their careers with a relevant degree; industries are diverse and there are a number of career paths available. Individuals interested in an IT career should possess curiosity, have the ability to think logically, and have strong problem-solving skills. A working knowledge of mathematics and good communication skills are also important since troubleshooting, teamwork, and helping others are vital aspects of most IT jobs.
In addition, web designers and developers also need imaginative and artistic skills. Whether dealing with customers, managers, or other computer specialists, IT professionals need the abilities to solve technical challenges as well as to communicate effectively on paper, in-person, and electronically.
Right now there are many high-skilled, interesting, and good-paying job opportunities in IT. In fact, Ireland continues to suffer from a shortage of qualified IT workers with flexible and portable skills who can readily adapt and respond to ever-changing IT workplace demands and processes. All of the top 10 global ICT comapnies maintain a presence in Ireland and employers are interested in applicants who can display a wide range of transferable skills including flexibility, adaptibility and motivation.
Third Level Colleges and Universities throughout Ireland offer courses in IT at Higher Certificate, (Level 6) Ordinary Degree (Level 7) and Honours Degree level (Level 8). It is often possible to take computer studies as part of a business or language course. These courses offer a wide range of specialisation within the industry. It is advisable to carefully research course content and future course options.
The computer industry is still relatively young and the average age of employees tends to be about 27 or 28. This means that the work place is often lively with a good social life after hours. It also means that career paths are not rigid and promotion and career development can be rapid for the talented person.
Starting salaries for someone with a degree in a computer related area is anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000 euro. Well-paid employment is almost guaranteed to suitably qualified people.
Computer Games Industry Ireland's media and gaming industry is one of the fastest growing sectors in IT. A recent report on the Games Industry in Ireland found that as of October 2012 there were at least 2,802 people working across 83 games companies on the island of Ireland, representing 91per cent growth in jobs in this sector since 2009. With new opportunities in mobile and social gaming, this figure is projected to grow.
Games Industry survey findings at March 2012 showed 3,344 people working in the sector in Ireland across 75 companies - 61 indigenous companies and 3 indigenous international companies employed 872 people, with an additional 14 Foreign owned companies employing almost 2472 staff. The October 2012 follow up survey shows that, despite a reduction in investment by 3 international companies in the sector and the closure of one, an additional 11 indigenous development companies and one middleware company have been initiated, with 59 jobs identified; one international company has announced an increase of 300 new jobs; an indigenous company is projecting a further 100 jobs for the future.
The Irish Digital Games Market currently equates to between 6% and 12% of the UK Games Market. At the launch of a Forfás report in 2011 on The Games Industry in Ireland, the government identified digital games as a target with particularly high potential for jobs growth (2,500 within 3 years), in a global industry predicted to be worth $82 billion by 2015.
Cloud computing is the delivery of computing as a service, using processing power and storage of data on computers and data centres based elsewhere, away from your own premises. This is possible because shared resources, software, and information are provided to computers and other devices as a metered service over a network (typically the Internet). Simply put, users can do more with less equipment, and are obtaining access to more computing power, whilst reducing the costs of their IT investment. Google, YouTube, Gmail, DropBox and SalesForce are all examples of cloud computing usage.
There are 3 main types of cloud computing currently in use:
Software as a Service (SaaS) - is where you use a complete software application that is running on someone else's server. For example, you can use Google Docs to create and store text documents, presentations and spreadsheets.
Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) - is where you buy hardware facilities, such as online storage, that you use over the net. Hosting of a website is an example of IaaS. You pay a monthly fee to a hosting company, and they serve up the files for your website from their servers.
Platform as a Service (PaaS) - is where you can create applications using web-based tools, but they run off both sytems software and hardware provided by another company. For example, e-commerce websites where you can go shopping online - the whole thing, including the shopping cart, checkout and payment mechanism - can be running on a merchant's server.
Cloud Computing is a key evolving technology and has been identified by the Irish Government as a priority area for investment and job creation. It is estimated that the development and adoption of cloud technology could be worth €9.5 billion to the Irish economy by 2014, generating up to 20,000 jobs. Funding of €1.2 million was provided this year towards making Ireland a world leader in cloud computing, to support the establishment of a Cloud Computing Technology Research Centre to be based at DCU, Athlone IT and NUI Cork.
An analysis of patent filings relating to cloud computing and Irish resident applicants and inventors shows that the world’s largest cloud computing portfolios are owned by well known multinational companies including IBM, Microsoft, SAP, Samsung and Cisco with more than half of the top 20 having operations in Ireland.
There are many new training courses in cloud computing coming on stream as a result of skills shortages in the Computers and Software Sector and to create more job opportunities in the current economic climate. For example: DBS run a three year Honours Degree in Digital Marketing with Cloud Computing and Cork IT and WIT has recently launched a HDip in Cloud Computing for unemployed graduates. Some applications for these programmes are made through bluebrick.ie.
Up to this, data generated has been structured data – financial institutions, bank accounts and so on, data created by big institutions. The growth area now is in unstructured data – sensors, videos, social media.
Every day 2.5 quintillion bytes of data is being created. 90% of the data in the world today has been created in the last two years alone. This data comes from everywhere:
sensors used to gather climate information
posts to social media sites
digital pictures and videos
purchase transaction records
mobile phone GPS signals to name a few.
This data is big data and it is already hugely relevant to daily life.
Today it is users who are creating data, in particular, mobile data. The amount of data continues to grow rapidly and all that information is of little use if it can't be sorted and managed into a coherent structure. For this reason, Big Data is one of the fastest growing areas of computing today.
Just as most people would not have the patience to wait a few days for a Google search to return the results they want, there is no point in storing these reams of data if they can't be utilised.
This is where new sector developments come in. The data not only needs to be managed and stored securely, it also needs to be indexed and accessible so that it can be utilised. The potential for growth and new developments in Big Data is huge.