Commit to staff development in order to “grow and flourish” says Salesforce Ireland Country Leader after ICT study highlights informal approach to staff training in South East


regional-skills-launchTech companies must increase their commitment to the professional development of the 5,000 ICT professionals currently employed in the southeast in order to grow and flourish.

This is according to Dr. David Dempsey, Ireland Country Leader of, who was speaking in Kilkenny today at the launch by South East Regional Skills Forum of its Study of the Future Skills Needs of the ICT Sector in the South East, which highlights that 41% of companies surveyed do not engage with any training provider. 

Despite the majority of companies citing staff training as an important factor in aiding staff retention, 59% of those surveyed have an informal approach to staff training with the majority of small and micro enterprises having no formal staff training plan. 

While 18% of companies stated they had no problems in recruiting talent thanks to skilled graduates, an overwhelming 65% of the companies interviewed cited sourcing staff as a significant challenge for their business. Of these, 55% said the recruitment of experienced staff with more than three years’ work experience was “very difficult”. Enticing workers back to the southeast was also highlighted, as graduates with experience are choosing to work in Dublin for better pay and promotion structures.

“The Study of the Future Skills Needs of the ICT Sector in the South East has revealed a wonderful diversity of ICT talent. However, for these companies to grow and flourish, they need to focus upon the ongoing development of their staff through training and education. 41% of companies surveyed have no interaction with local training providers and 66% of companies identified sourcing new staff as a key challenge. Companies that support the continuous professional development of staff will be seen as attractive employees. The South East ICT sector can prosper and grow significantly with support from the various education and training providers”, commented Dr. Dempsey. 

The study by South East Regional Skills Forum set out to assess the existing and future skills needs of the ICT industry in the southeast to inform growth and recruitment strategies and to work in collaboration with education providers to ensure an adequate pipeline of graduates with the requisite skills and competences. 

The online survey saw 26 companies employing 1,663 staff across the southeast respond with 17 of the companies also participating in a detailed semi-structured interview. 

Of the 59% of companies engaged with training providers, 35% are with institutes of technology (IT Carlow and WIT), 24% with Skillnets and 18% with third-party vendors. However, Companies did not record any engagement with providers in the Further Education section, including the Education and Training Boards.  Of the companies (59%) engaged with training, 76% prefer blended or online training.  

Almost a quarter of companies (24%) highlighted a need for greater communications by education and training providers of the range of education and training available for companies and staff.  

The survey showed that the greatest concentration of ICT skills in the southeast is in Programming Development Methodologies (566 employees), followed by Software Development Tools and Methodologies (511), Cloud Computing (429) and Web Development Technologies (421). 

Interestingly, 88% of companies indicated that staff turnover was not a significant issue and felt that a positive working environment and good management was a key factor in staff retention. 

Relevant undergraduate work placement was noted by most companies as essential to preparing for the world of work. However, transversal competences such as interpersonal skills were cited as often lacking in new graduates. 

Speaking at the launch of the study, Edmond Connolly, Manager, South East Regional Skills Forum commented, “The study clearly shows the depth and diversity of ICT talent in the southeast region. 88% of companies reported that their positive working environment was a key factor in staff retention. However, two thirds of companies reported sourcing new staff as a significant challenge for their business. In particular, they are finding it difficult to recruit staff with experience. I believe this challenge can be addressed in part by upskilling existing staff with the assistance of the education and training providers in the region. IT Carlow and WIT are offering a range of part time courses in ICT and delivering them in a more blended / flexible manner. They are willing to respond further where companies are willing to engage.”

The South East Regional Skills Forum provides a framework to support and facilitate the implementation of actions by individual ETBs or HEIs to enhance links with enterprise and prepare learners for the different roles they will have over their working lives.