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Perspectives on the Software Skills Shortage


Like many other countries in Europe, Ireland is now experiencing a skill shortage in IT (information technology). This has prompted the Employment Research Centre in Trinity College Dublin to organise an academic symposium on the issue on September 22 2000.

We focus firstly on the nature and the extent of the Irish and European skill shortages. Secondly, we explore how organisational and technological changes in the IT industry are redefining the types of skills that are required. In the past, policy makers and researchers have understood the matching of educational qualifications and work positions as involving a balance between the supply and demand for skills. This view still provides the framework for policymakers. By contrast, social scientists, in particular sociologists, are increasingly analysing the dynamics of skill acquisition both inside and outside the workplace and often stress the relevance of non-technical skills to employment.

On the one hand, the recent interest in concepts such as long-life-learning stresses that the employee's career itself has become a way to acquire skills. It appears that the experience of work is more and more a substitute for formal university-type education. The acquisition of technical skills now involves a variety of sources that in most of the cases are external to conventional third level institutions. Furthermore, as careers become more individualised, individuals continually re-create their careers rather than simply following a pre-existing trajectory.On the other hand, workers' 'personal' skills have become very important in the work process.

The management of complex information sources, the management of time and the management of tasks all rely on the individual's qualities and abilities. Equally, collaboration within expert groups and in extended networks (both of which play an important role in IT companies) require a number of social and non-technical skills. The symposium will bring together a small number of researchers and experts from Ireland, Britain, France and Germany to discuss these issues. Attendance is by invitation only.

0930 - 1100

Defining and projecting skills needs


'The Report on the ExpertGroup on Future Skills Needs', Niall O'Donnellan, Enterprise-Ireland.

'Labour Shortage and Competencies. The Case of the Computer Industry', Gilles Pariente, Université des Sciences Sociales-Toulouse.

1130 - 1300

IT Skills


Aileen O'Carroll, Employment Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin.

'The social organisation of work and skills', John Hughes, Lancaster University.


1400 - 1630

Educational policy and careers


'A view on the IT-sector in Germany: careers, working conditions, and work-life-balance', Gudrun Trautwein-Kalms, WSI Düsseldorf.

'The Mass Production of Technical Knowledge in Irish Education', Gerard Boucher, Employment Research Centre , Trinity College Dublin.

'Innovation on the hoof? The software labour market in Dublin and Germany', Owen Gorman and James Wickham, Employment Research Centre, Trinity College Dublin.

Contact: jwickham@tcd.ie

Last updated: Jul 15 2011.