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Leaving Cert Students — Shape the future with a career in tech

Posted: 30 Jun 2021

Leaving Cert Students — Shape the future with a career in tech

If you enjoy solving problems, are well-organised and want an exciting and rewarding career, consider the tech sector, says Eolas Recruitment.

As the Leaving Cert exams draw to a close, now is the time to check your CAO application, make sure that you are happy with your choices, and if necessary avail of the change of mind facility. The deadline for this is 5.15 pm on 1 July.

After a long and stressful year, you now have a chance to relax for a few weeks before the first round of CAO offers on 7 September. This is a good time to find out more about the types of career that will be open to you when you graduate from third level.

One path that is definitely worth considering is a career in the tech sector, says Eolas Recruitment Principal Consultant Stephen Daly.

“Technology increasingly impacts all aspects of our lives and there are great tech roles, even at entry level, in all types of organisation— companies, public sector organisations, financial services, sporting organisations, charities and not-for-profit entities.”

Job prospects

A recent survey for SOLAS Skills and Labour Market Research Unit which gathered the views of selected recruitment agencies in Ireland found that 53% of survey respondents experience difficulty sourcing STEM skills. Currently, in the IT sector, the skills that are most in demand are software developers, analysts, designers, engineers, architects, and technical support staff.

Entry-level roles

“While a degree in computer science is the most common entry-level qualification for tech roles, relevant skills acquired at school through coding camps and various industry programmes run in collaboration with teachers and schools are also of interest to employers,” says Stephen.

If you are reading this article while still at school, the Smart Futures website provides a list of Transition Year programmes and resources that enable students to experience STEM at first hand.

When hiring, larger employers and multinationals tend to source candidates at milk rounds and/or invite applications from graduates.

“When applying for these roles, your CV should list relevant skills, experience and voluntary work remembering to highlight in particular any experience of teamwork or managing people,” Stephen advises.

Check out Eolas Recruitment’s article on how to prepare your tech CV for tips on what to include and what to leave out on your CV.

Pay is generally good for tech roles, particularly as you climb the career ladder. Entry-level salaries vary but tend to be higher in larger companies.

Girls under-represented

A big challenge in tech, and indeed in STEM generally, is that girls are under-represented both at third level and in industry.

“Companies are more aware than ever of the benefits of diversity so they want to broaden their talent pool, bringing in different voices, skills and perspectives. While scarcity of female graduates is a challenge for businesses, it creates a lot of opportunities for young women with STEM skills,” says Stephen.

At policy level, work to encourage greater take up of STEM subjects in schools is ongoing. However, recent education indicators for Ireland (December 2020) show that there are still strong differences in the percentages of girls and boys studying STEM subjects, particularly when biology is excluded. The Government’s STEM Education Policy Statement acknowledges a need to increase the uptake of these subjects and enhance STEM learning for learners of all backgrounds, abilities and gender, with a particular focus on uptake by females.

Inspiring girls to study STEM

Elsewhere, various initiatives and programmes also aim to inspire girls to pursue STEM careers. Examples include CodePlus —a Computer Science engagement project based in Trinity College Dublin which provides coding workshops, teacher support and research to encourage greater participation by girls in Computer Science and IT courses at third level and in follow-on careers.

At industry level, events like iWish, the International Girls in ICT Day and the WomenTech Global Conference showcase female role models in the tech sector.

“These events are really inspiring and a great way to show how exciting and rewarding careers in tech can be. Lots of women in tech, including many Irish women, have achieved huge success. It’s really important to find ways for them to share their career stories so that other young women can see the opportunities and learn how to support each other and thrive in our sector,” says Eolas Recruitment Senior Recruiter Nollaig Leydon.

At post-grad level, there are also incentives that target female graduates. A recent example is a new scholarship for a MSc in Quantum Science and Technology. Developed by Microsoft in collaboration with Trinity College Dublin, this post-grad programme focuses on accelerating advancements in next-generation quantum technologies and attracting and training future world-leaders in the field. The scholarship is open to applications from female graduates. The closing date 31 July 2021.

If you are interested in finding out more about other measures aimed at encouraging greater female participation in STEM, check out our recent interview with Nollaig about opportunities for women in the tech sector.

Role models

Although female STEM graduates are outnumbered by their male peers at the moment, there are nevertheless numerous high profile female role models in Ireland’s tech sector including Vodafone Ireland CEO Anne O’Leary, Louise Phelan former vice president of Paypal and now chief executive of Phelan Energy Group, and Sinéad McSweeney, who leads Twitter’s public policy team in Europe, the Middle East and Africa and is Managing Director of Twitter in Ireland.

“Probably the single most successful influence when it comes to encouraging girls and young women to enrol on IT-related courses or pursue a tech career is having positive role models. The saying that, ‘if you can see it, you can be it’ is as true in the tech sector as in any other industry,” says Nollaig.

“Our advice for Leaving Cert students is that if you have a positive attitude, an aptitude for technology, good problem-solving skills and are well-organised you should definitely consider an exciting and rewarding career in tech.”

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