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Skills shortage ‘already frustrating IT sector’

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Rebecca Kincade on January 31, 2014 - 6:45 am in In Depth

With Northern Ireland’s IT sector booming, it can be easy to get caught up in the excitement of new additions and investments in the marketplace. Neil Corrigan, IT recruitment specialist, , feels there are a few issues that must be addressed in order for this sector to reach its full potential.

Northern Ireland is now a true hub of IT, competing globally for new contracts and clients and yielding fantastic programmers, network engineers, managers and infrastructure personnel.

As an IT recruiter I speak with many different people from various backgrounds. Some are perhaps curious as to new opportunities in the market. Others are more tentative and wish to remain in the comfort of their current role. Many are trying in earnest to get their foot on the job ladder. Perhaps surprisingly, despite the speed of the growth in the sector, this is not always an easy task.

Commercial experience is required by many employers and this can be hard to obtain. While there are several graduate schemes in place to make sure our new IT graduates secure an excellent start to their career, the intake numbers are quite limited and a high surplus remain unemployed.

I believe that these people hold the key to solving the IT skills shortage and steps need to be taken soon to address this situation. Everyone deserves a chance to prove themselves in their chosen career. IT graduates must gain valuable commercial experience in order to progress with their career after university and schemes that provide a guaranteed job at the end of the journey would present a welcome opportunity for both employee and employer.

Tailored to fit

For companies that are recruiting, a graduate can often be the best option. Coming into a role early in a career journey can allow for work styles to be moulded to best suit the ethos of the business. Growth within these roles can be tailored by the recruiter in accordance with their current needs and future plans.

However, while this sounds like an obvious solution it can be tricky to implement. It costs time and money to train new people not already used to existing structures. When a company is under pressure to deliver projects on time and within a strict budget, taking hours out to develop talent is simply not an option.

At the moment we are seeing a push for specific engineers from clients. Requirements for people experienced in Java, C#, PHP, Ruby on Rails, to name but a few, are paramount for several clients recruiting within the IT sector in Northern Ireland. The shortage of available candidates is already proving frustrating for some employers.

Strong position

For the experienced IT job seeker, this is a candidates market. Salary is one of the key factors in helping people decide on where their next move will be. A work/life balance is also important, with companies offering shorter working hours and flexible solutions to suit around childcare to secure and attract the talent they need.

New companies arriving on to the Northern Ireland IT scene for the first time also hold recruitment power. There is always an air of excitement about the new kids on the block and these companies can sometimes bring greater career opportunities for motivated individuals.

At Cpl we have European reach for our clients and candidates. We have over one million candidates currently on our data base, which offers us a powerful resource to tap into when our clients are recruiting. We are always looking at ways to bring new talent into Northern Ireland to join our local IT sector.

To find out more about new opportunities in IT in Northern Ireland, or to discuss recruitment solutions, visit:


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