“Careers in IT are open to everyone, even if you’ve spent years working in another industry ”

  • Bring IT On’s Business Development Executive, Lisa McCaul, talks about tackling the skills shortage in the NI tech sector.

    Q.  For anyone who hasn’t already heard of Bring IT On can you tell us a bit about the program?

    A. The programme is funded by the Department for the Economy, in partnership with colleges and universities to encourage and educate young people about the pathways into the IT industry. We provide talks and career advice to aspiring further and higher education students. Facilitators also outline the qualifications required to obtain an IT role and the benefits of working in the sector to help young people gain the necessary insight required to progress.

    We showcase the opportunities and benefits of careers in IT by raising awareness of the great diversity of options in this exciting and ever-changing sector. We run events, speak at schools, attend job fairs and work with employers, careers advisers, IT teachers, parents, and carers to promote job opportunities available in IT.

    The programme facilitates links with the further education and university sectors by designing key training solutions and supporting recruitment and other pre-employment activities.

    Q. How important is Bring IT On in addressing the skills shortages in the local tech sector?

    A. Employers in Northern Ireland and further afield are looking for people with the IT skills they need. However, there is a skills gap. Many high-growth businesses in industries such as cyber security, software development and artificial intelligence (AI) struggle to find enough people with relevant skills to fill all the jobs they would like to create.

    Bring IT On Ambassadors are the link between schools and industry as we work to support schools and students to encourage and inspire the next generation of IT talent in Northern Ireland. We show young people the various paths into the IT sector including university or apprenticeships or alternatives like an assured skills academy.

    The IT career pathway is varied and thriving, which is why institutions invite employers to work with them to help shed a light on bridging the IT skills gap with the help of the Bring IT On initiative.

    Q. What are the main benefits of a career in the IT Sector?

    A. Firstly, IT jobs are notoriously well-paid. The average tech salary in Northern Ireland is £33,000. A graduate software developer can expect a starting salary from £24,000–£32,000. That compares to an average salary of £26,232 across all jobs in Northern Ireland.

    Moreover, all these opportunities are right here on your doorstep in Northern Ireland while also opening doors to international travel. Over 2000 leading tech companies operate here in Northern Ireland including Aflac, PwC, Microsoft, First Derivatives, Liberty IT, Kainos, Fujitsu, Proofpoint, Rapid7, EY, PA Consulting and Version 1.

    The IT sector is also one of the most inclusive, diverse and team-orientated work environments. Around 81% of IT professionals have flexible working arrangements. With IT skills in such high demand, employers offer good conditions to help keep their team happy and motivated. Perks can include free tea, coffee, snacks,  lunches, social gatherings and well-being initiatives.

    Careers in IT are open to everyone, even if you’ve spent years working in another industry or out of the workplace entirely, there are opportunities for you. Great salaries, exciting opportunities, growing demand – and much more – is available to you. Whatever stage you’re at, there are pathways for you to build your career in IT.

    Q. What pathways are available for those wishing to explore a career in IT?

    There is no ‘right’ way into the IT sector. Whether you leave school after your GCSEs or follow an academic path all the way through to a master’s degree, you can build a successful career. You could get an apprenticeship, join an employer’s school leavers scheme, or change your career path completely through an Assured Skills Academy. It’s just about finding the path that’s best for you.

    Q. What local companies are working with the Bring IT On as part of their ongoing training and talent attraction strategies?

    In 2022 we have worked with Digiskills,  AllState, Version 1, First Derivatives, PWC, MCS Recruitment and RealTime Recruitment to spread the good news that careers in IT are accessible and available in Northern Ireland.  These companies gave up their time and resource to exhibit and speak at Bring IT On events and have been an invaluable asset in the delivery of our message.

    There is a wealth of knowledge in the industry and when you strip back the titles, each individual is doing a job that is contributing massively to the growing Tech industry. Every organisation has its part to play in developing their technology functions and the people they need to fulfil them.

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