Ireland has an international reputation as a centre of excellence in IT. Both multinationals and home-grown talent contribute to making technology one of the fastest growing industries in the country.
This makes Ireland the second largest exporter of computer and IT services in the world, with over 97% of domestic production sold in international markets. The sector accounts for over €50 billion of exports from Ireland each year.
900 software firms across Ireland employ more than 24,000 people in the IT sectors.
Eight of the top 10 global IT companies have established a significant presence here. Giants established in Ireland include: Intel, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Apple, Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Amazon, AirBnB, PayPal, eBay and Twitter.
Common operations carried out by companies located in Ireland include core software development, e-learning, product customisation, software testing and fulfilment.
In 2016, there were 81,595 ICT professionals employed in Ireland. It is estimated that there are 55,866 ICT employees in the broad ICT sector (68% of the total) and 25,729 (32% of the total) in Other Sectors.
Data from the 2018 Expert Group for Future Skills Needs enterprise survey conducted indicates there were 5.2% unfilled vacancies for computing skills and 6.9% for electronic and electrical engineering. This leads to a total demand in 2016 of 85,515.
The 2018 Expert Group for Future Skills Needs predicts a shortfall in ICT skills of up to 146,000 people by 2022.
The development of the “ICT Skills Action Plan, 2014‐2018” predicted demand for ICT to grow at 7.2% over the period. The report states that employment in fact grew ahead of this prediction at a rate of 8.4%-9%. ICT employment permits for the period grew by over 30%.
According to the EU, Ireland’s growth is forecast to come in at 5.7 and 4.1 per cent in 2018 and 2019 respectively.
End user demand for cloud computing is expected to underpin market demand going forward according to the ITA Cloud Computing Top Markets Report.
Industry analysts forecast that cloud computing could experience annual growth of 40% in Ireland in the short-term.
Strong growth markets for emerging technologies, such as cognitive systems and artificial intelligence (AI), robotics, the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, augmented and virtual reality, and next generation security.
In 2018, government IT spending shows signs of significant growth with capital expenditure (including ICT) increased for the Defence Forces to €77m. The schools sector has received a significant boost to upgrade ICT infrastructure in all schools as part of the €210m digital technology investment in schools to be delivered by 2021.
An additional €4m has been allocated to the Revenue Commissioners to enhance ICT systems capacity for data matching and data analytics and to improve eCommerce/Online business compliance. Smaller allocations have also been made to facilitate the ongoing modernisation of the Passport Service and enhanced global ICT systems.
€3m has been allocated to IT development for PAYE Modernisation, the project represents the most significant reform of the administration of the PAYE system in over fifty years.
Capital allocation for An Garda Síochána (the Irish police force) will continue to facilitate the significant ongoing programme of investment in ICT modernisation to promote the efficiency and effectiveness of policing services.
In 2017, ICT allocation for the HSE increased to €55m as it continues to try and modernise it IT systems and implement an Electronic Health Record system.
Annual domestic expenditure in enterprise software is about €258 million and is driven by document and content management solutions, business intelligence and analytics, database, web servers, and enterprise portals. Expenditure on network storage software is around €62 million while the security software market is estimated at €124 million.
Ireland continues to offer a proven gateway to the lucrative European software market for overseas software SMEs. Ireland has a long history of working with overseas software SMEs particularly in the US and UK and is likely to strengthen this position post-Brexit.
Irish software exporters remain interested in forging joint venture/licensing agreements with foreign technology partners.
The Irish software sector offers excellent mid-to-long term for FDI particularly from SMEs with innovative and leading-edge software products. Sector-specific growth continues in the accounting, procurement, project management and manufacturing software, cybersecurity, financial, healthcare, energy, telecom segments and in cloud computing.
Sources: IDA, CSO, Office of Public Procurement, US Embassy, IBEC, ICS, Expert Group for Future Skills Needs