One of Derry’s biggest IT firms currently has 60 posts, many with £30k+ salaries, which it is unable to fill locally, the Journal has learned.
A spokesperson for All State, which has a base in Springtown as well as offices in Strabane and Belfast, said yesterday that it would be “brilliant” if 60 Derry people, with the appropriate skills, could fill the job vacancies. The company have already employed 30 people in the city throughout 2014.
However a major skills gap in the sector locally, and right across the North, has meant the jobs which come with an attractive benefits package, remain unfilled.
A spokesperson told the Journal: “It’s become increasingly more difficult to fill certain roles. The competition to find employees is fierce right across the IT sector. We have 60 roles open at the moment and obviously we’d be delighted if we could get 60 people to fill these locally. We’ve just taken on more office space at our location in Derry.
“Because a lot of our roles are particularly niche we have to look everywhere for talent and that means even beyond Northern Ireland, but if we could fill them here, we would. There are lots of IT companies locally and to an extent we’re all fishing from the same pond in terms of recruitment.
“We’re doing everything possible to fill the roles we currently have available. We even go to companies and delivered information sessions where people have been made redundant to encourage them to retrain. The technology is just moving forward so quickly that it’s a major challenge finding the people that we need. We also go out to schools to speak to young people and encourage them into IT.”
The spokesperson said the IT sector locally was booming and that employees were highly rewarded for their expertise.
“There hasn’t been a recession with us. We’re offering jobs including medical packages, dental packages, gym memberships and jobs which come with salary bonuses. We can also offer flexible working hours which is important for many people trying to juggle work and family.”
The spokesperson said that All State were positive about the future of IT in the North West and have already started working with secondary schools in the area to help produce the next generation if IT experts.
“We have very good connections in schools and we’re certainly doing all we can from our end to try and find a way to fill the gap which exists at the moment. We also focus strongly on upskilling within our own company too but at the moment we still have 50/60 jobs outstanding. While there are initiatives underway to fill the skills gap, it will be some time before we see the results of that.”
Meanwhile, it’s understood that private industry in Derry is also rallying to plug the skills gap which exists in the IT sector locally.
It’s believed a number of companies who use software development have started a fund administered by the Chamber of Commerce, which will pay for a number of teachers to be trained to deliver software development courses at Magee.