Jobs recruiting hampered by lack of IT grads

Skills shortage worse in Ireland than in other countries, according to one chief executive: ‘In general, colleges aren’t as quick as they should be to update curriculums’

A shortage of skilled IT and engineering graduates is limiting the ability of companies to expand their operations in Ireland, according to the chief executive of US software firm Kemp Technologies.

Ray Downes said the skills shortage was worse in Ireland than in other countries, adding that there needs to be more dialogue between businesses and third level institutions about future needs.

“We are committed to having an operation in Ireland for the long term,” he said. “How quickly we expand that operation will depend on getting suitably skilled graduates. We are adding 35 new roles across the firm this year and wanted to put 20 of those roles in Ireland, but may have to put them elsewhere.

“We are having to import a lot of talent from other countries,” he added. “Companies are refocusing their effort for engineering and R&D staff abroad as a result.”


Mr Downes said businesses should be talking to colleges and universities to explain what they need in terms of skills for the future.

“Graduates here are coming out with generic skills,” he said. “There is not as much specialisation as we would like. Graduates in other countries have more specialisation.

“In general, the colleges aren’t as quick as they should be to update curriculums. There should be more dialogue with business about the skills they need and their future needs.”

Simple failures

Eugene Garvin

, a senior software development manager at


in Galway, said many candidates can provide textbook answers on Java, OO, networking and web apps, but fail to complete a simple programming exercise.

He said he has also seen a lack of basic knowledge of software testing practices, adding that many candidates struggled with basic questions around how they would test their applications.

“It suggests that either a lightweight approach is being taken to software development in our third level institutions or the current candidates we are seeing are those who have struggled with the more complex aspects, particularly at a practical level,” he said.

“IOS- or Android-based development, while valuable, is only one part of the software development spectrum,”Mr Garvin said. “A lack of strong back-end systems and algorithmic development will be an issue for the continued growth of the software development sector in this country if we don’t address it.”

Justin Keatinge, founder of Version 1, an IT services company that employs more than 450 people in Ireland, said hiring staff was the company's main challenge. Senior developers are especially hard to hire.

“There is a global shortage of skilled IT workers,” he said. “The government has done a good job tackling issues such as visas, which helps. You can get a visa for an employee in two to three weeks now, whereas it used to take several months. They have also promoted STEM courses and courses to retrain people.

Still, he said, “a lot more could be done to help us be more competitive. Rent is getting dearer, especially in Dublin, and that is a turnoff for people coming to Ireland. The income tax rate is also very high.”