The recently published report by Fastrack into Information Technology ( FIT Ltd) reveals that there are currently 12,000 tech vacancies in the tech sector in Ireland. This is both amazing and worrying.
Amazing that there are so many unfilled vacancies in the Irish tech sector which has almost 100,000 tech employees ; and worrying because the number of vacancies has increased from 7,000 in 2014 and during a period when there had been significant numbers of people registered as unemployed. This shortage of tech talent could well hamper the growth of the economy as the flow of tech talent from the domestic population is insufficient to meet demand which alternatively can only be met by recruitment from abroad.
FIT is doing great work in developing appropriate tech training programmes which are being delivered by the ETBs and other training entities. The FIT audit reveals that of the 12,000 tech vacancies in Ireland there are 58% at entry/competency level and 42% at expert level.
Meeting this demand is a big challenge for the further education and training sector ( FET) . Staffing and other resources must now urgently be allocated to training entities so that most of these vacant posts can be filled
The pervasiveness of new technologies across all sectors of the economy can drive significant economic and social growth. In particular, indigenous enterprises require access to a pipeline of talent with the necessary skills and competencies to work with emerging technologies. The education and training sector is not currently meeting the demand for tech skilled employees so this urgently needs to be addressed.
The FIT audit warns that the 4th Industrial Revolution has arrived and we need to embrace the many new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence , Robotics , Internet of Things , Big Data , Cloud Computing etc. if we are to remain competitive as an economy now competing on the world stage. The level of tech employment by indigenous companies needs to grow further if they are to remain competitive but an inadequate supply.
Successful economies are those which adapt rapidly to the convergence of technologies . Therefore successful enterprises are focused on recruitment of people with an array of skills which can enhance the workplace. Tech skills allied to such skills as creativity, adaptability and critical thinking are now top of employers recruitment priorities.
The education and training sector needs to show greater adaptability and flexibility so that it can respond in a timely manner to the rapidly changing tech needs of industry. Education and training is key to our ongoing and future development as a nation so government needs to continue to pump targeted resources into the sector which , in turn , demonstrates by the level of output that the State is getting good return for its investment.
The FIT ICT Associate Professional training programmes are two year dual education and training programmes leading to employment in the tech industry. These programmes are highly regarded and numbers of trainees are expanding rapidly. But more needs to happen so that the skills demands of the tech sector can be satisfied. FIT , ETBs , IOTs ,SOLAS , National Apprenticeship Council and Regional Skills Fora are now collaborating in this regard but greater urgency is needed . The ministers for education and skills are aware of the urgent need for a far greater supply of tech talent. The strategy heretofore has not delivered as evidenced by the increasing numbers of tech vacancies . Hopefully when FIT produces another skills audit in the future we will see a vastly diminished level of vacancies .
Can we afford to wait and see ?