Some Skills Will Always Be In Demand

Some Skills Will Always Be In Demand
Kevin Graham, VP of Business Operations at ICON Clinical Research

Even in the middle of the current recession, it appears that there are still shortages in the availability of experienced IT people. Enterprise Ireland recently announced that there are currently 1,500 IT vacancies at indigenous companies waiting to be filled.

This news took me back to when I graduated, back in the early 1980s, when Ireland was also in the midst of a deep recession.

Back then, unemployment was also very high, even among graduates. However, having studied engineering at TCD, there were at least some options: even then, there was a shortage of technical graduates.

I was lucky enough to have two job offers. One offer was with the ESB, then one of the main employers of engineering graduates in the country. Other than the ESB, most of the jobs on offer in Ireland were manufacturing roles with Multi-National Corporations (MNCs) who were using Ireland as a manufacturing base for Europe.

My other job offer was with a high technology start-up, Trilogy Systems, who had plans to establish a manufacturing operation in Ireland … but first, they wanted me (and about 30 other engineers) to spend eighteen months in California.

It was a tough decision, but after about fifteen seconds, I decided that my pale Irish skin could do with some prolonged exposure to the California sunshine.

I subsequently spent the next seven years living and working in California. (The planned start up of Trilogy never actually happened: it’s a long story, but Trilogy changed its name to Elxsi and now operates a chain of restaurants in New England)

Returning in the late 1980s, the Irish economy was still struggling. Nevertheless, there were still opportunities for those with technical skills at the growing MNCs, albeit still primarily in manufacturing roles.

During the 1990s, as the Celtic Tiger economy kicked into gear, many of the MNCs began expanding their Irish operations into other areas, with the subsequent growth in call centres, shared services, marketing and related functions. Manufacturing took a back seat, but the demand for those with technical skills remained high.

Somewhere along the way, indigenous Irish companies began to share in the success of the Irish economic expansion. Irish technology companies such as Iona and Baltimore Technologies quickly grew to international prominence.

When the bubble finally burst, neither the MNCs nor the indigenous companies were immune and there were many casualties, including Iona and Baltimore.

However, the recent announcement of the 1,500 IT vacancies at indigenous companies is an indication that there are still opportunities out there.

Also, recent announcements from the IDA show that global technology companies still see Ireland as a very attractive place to do business and will continue to have a demand for talented graduates.

Some skills will always be in demand.

Kevin Graham

VP of Business Operations,
ICON Clinical Research

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