Key points for selected IT professional occupations
- In 2014, there were approximately 60,000 persons employed in the selected IT occupations, representing 3% of Ireland’s workforce (Figure 9.3.1)
- Almost half of overall employment was concentrated in the IT sector (mostly computer programming and consultancy), with an additional one fifth in industry (mostly computer, electronic and optical manufacturing)
- Three quarters of overall employment was at professional level (of which, almost 30% were programmers & software developers); the remainder was at technician level
- Between 2009 and 2014, overall employment in IT occupations grew at an average annual rate of 4.1% ─ one of the highest rates of growth recorded amongst the 17 broad occupational groups examined; the strongest growth rates were recorded for IT user support technicians (10.7% on average annually) and programmers & software developers (8% on average annually) (Figure 9.3.2)
- Over the same five year period, the IT occupational group also experienced the largest absolute increase in employment (approximately 11,000); the largest increases were observed for programmers & software developers (almost 6,000) and ICT specialist & project managers (3,000)
- Between 2013 and 2014, overall employment increased by 3,000 or 5.4% ─ exceeding the national average rate of 1.7%; the strongest growth was recorded for user support technicians
- The majority of those employed in IT occupations were aged 25-54 (Figure 9.3.3)
- Over four fifths of IT professionals were third level graduates; the corresponding share was almost three quarters for IT technicians (Figure 9.3.4)
- Most of those employed in IT occupations were male and worked full-time
- Just over 40% of employed IT user support technicians were non-Irish nationals ─ considerably above the national average share of 15%; at almost 33%, the share of non-Irish national programmers & software developers was relatively high
- In quarter 4 2014, the overall unemployment rate for IT occupations (measuring 3%) ─ was well below the national average rate of 9.9%.
In 2014, there were approximately 15,000 specialist IT managers, 30,000 IT professionals and 15,000 IT technicians. The demand across all IT occupations has been strong.
In 2014, over 6,500 vacancies were advertised through the PES and Irishjobs.ie portals alone. Difficulty in filling vacancies has been reported: results from the Recruitment Agency Survey in May 2015, indicate that one third of all difficult to fill mentions were in relation to IT roles.
In 2014, almost 1,700 employment permits were issued to IT workers from outside the EEA - 1,600 for professionals and 100 for technicians.
IT workers are typically young (over 55s account for a small share), indicating that retirements are not a significant element of the overall demand. Attrition is somewhat higher when all exits to inactivity (e.g. home duties, study etc.) are taken into account. Turnover estimates suggest that many vacancies for IT workers arise due to intra- or inter-occupational movements. For instance, it is estimated that 14% of programmers changed employer or occupation in 2014.
Nonetheless, the demand for IT skills is growing, with expansion demand expected to push total annual recruitment requirement to over 3,500 for IT professionals and managers and a further 2,000+ for IT technicians. Numerous companies announced job creation for IT workers recently, including:
- Global Shares (web based software)
- Movidius (hardware and software for virtual reality headsets, drones, home automation, visionbased technology)
- IFDS (financial software for admin solutions for investment and insurance)
- NearForm (Node.js)
- GuideWire Software (insurance)
- Version 1
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch (banking technology)
- Dell (R&D),
- MalwareBytes (cybersecurity)
- LogMein (cloud)
- Espion (IT security)
- Agora (applications for global publishing) and
- SmartTech (IT security).
The 2013/2014 graduate supply from computing courses was 3,700, of which 70% were at NFQ levels 8 and above. There were a further 465 QQI awards made to learners from private colleges, three quarters of which at level 8 or above. In addition, in May 2015, there were 1,000 job ready job seekers who held third level qualifications and had previous experience in IT (600 managers and professionals, 400 technicians).
In response to the continuous shortage of IT skills, the Government has put forward the ICT skills action plan 2014-2018, which sets outs targets in relation to increasing graduate output, improving maths skills at higher secondary level and providing ICT conversion courses.
Despite significant graduate supply and a number of job seekers with IT skills (many of whom are likely to be only in frictional unemployment, given the turnover estimates), shortages of IT skills continue to exist.
While approximately one half of IT workers are employed directly in the ICT sector, IT skills are demanded by all sectors of the economy. Moreover, a shortage of IT skills is not unique to Ireland, but rather a global phenomenon.
Shortages identified for the Irish labour market include:
- Cloud computing: Software as a Service (SaaS) and virtualisation technologies
- Web design (niche areas only): particularly web related applications focusing on enhancing users’ online experience (UX) and supporting user interaction (UI)
- IT project management
- Networking and infrastructure: IP networking and specialist roles such as software quality assurance engineers
- IT business analysis: business intelligence and search engine optimisation
- Databases, big data analytics and data warehousing: Oracle, SQL, MySQL, Hadoop and noSQL
- Testing and troubleshooting: quality assurance testers
- Technical support: user support with foreign language skills (German, French).