The growth of the ICT (Information and Communication Technologies) sector in Ireland shows no sign of abating any time soon. Its performance during the economic slump has been remarkable – approximately 13,700 jobs have been created in the industry over the last three years alone.
The rate of development in the sector is so great that it can be difficult at times to keep abreast of the proliferating initiatives and investment announcements. The demand for people with a high level of ICT skills and experience is high: a recent survey by the Skills and Labour Market Research Unit (SLMRU) showed that the most difficult-to-fill positions for recruitment agencies are in ICT – software engineers, developers, and IT security experts were among the most sought after professionals.
In order to overcome what was perceived as a skills shortage, the Department of Education and Skills took the measure of publishing a government-industry ICT action plan aimed at building the supply of high-level ICT graduates required in order to meet the industry’s needs. A key part of this plan was the roll out of a number of ICT skills conversion programmes in March 2012. The initiative has proven to be such a success that it will enter a second phase in spring 2013, with an additional 760 places being made available (the first phase had 700) on various programmes across a range of colleges.
The courses on offer cover the gamut of subject areas within the computing spectrum. The National College of Ireland, for instance, run a Higher Diploma in Science in Web Technologies (one year part time). Students on this programme will develop an understanding of the latest web 2.0 technologies and applications, which they can then put to use during a work placement within a computing- or software-based organisation.
The Higher Diploma in Software Development (one year part time), which is run by the University of Limerick, is another excellent conversion course option. The programme aims to prepare students for the design and construction of software-based systems – from stand-alone applications to web-based applications and mobile apps – using a variety of languages, systems, methods and tools. As with NCI’s offering, students will also be given the chance to put their skills to use in an industrial setting via a 12-week work placement, which will also provide them with the opportunity to develop industry links.
Those interested in enrolling on a conversion course should note that such programmes are, naturally, aimed at students coming from non-computing backgrounds. They therefore tend to be quite intensive in terms of course delivery. While candidates are not expected to have a background in computing, they are expected to hold a level 8 degree in a cognate area (for example, applicants for a Data Analytics course should be numerate and have good technical/mathematical problem-solving skills).
But what are the career benefits of taking a computer science-based postgraduate course for those who have already secured an undergraduate qualification in the area? The answer is simple enough – the greater the level of expertise a student can obtain, the greater their competitive advantage on the jobs market. There is also the increased likelihood that those who come away with a postgraduate degree will proceed to higher-level functioning within the industry, finding roles for themselves as software architects, team leaders or project managers.
In such a vibrant field of study, the course options are bound to be plentiful, which is indeed the case: the MSc in Computing is available from a number of institutes of technology (e.g. Dundalk, Galway-Mayo, Blanchardstown, Tralee, Limerick and Athlone) and is an excellent preparation for senior IT roles. Students undertake modules such as Human Computer Interaction, Distributed Computing (i.e. Networks) and Advanced Software Engineering. Quite often, these courses will also focus on entrepreneurial and research skills. Another viable option is DIT’s recently launched MSc in Applied Software Technology – a fully funded programme that offers graduates a full-time and permanent position with Ericsson upon satisfactory completion.
The recent announcement that a major pan-European broadband project – which has received close to €12 million in funding – is to be headquartered at Trinity College Dublin suggests that the college’s international reputation for technological innovation and learning continues to grow. It is no surprise then that the subject of Computer Science is well serviced by the college’s School of Computer Sciences and Statistics with unique yet related MSc degrees on offer. These include subject areas as diverse as Interactive Entertainment Technology, Networks and Distributed Systems, and Mobile and Ubiquitous Computing – all of which are full-time courses of a single year’s duration. In addition, it is also possible to undertake a research role. The School divides its research activity into five disciplines – Computer Systems, Information Systems, Intelligent Systems, Software Systems and Statistics (note that the latter offers a PhD in Statistics, while the other four offer PhDs in Computer Science). Each of these areas is considered vital to Ireland’s development as a ‘knowledge economy’ and the postgraduate researchers produced often go on to assume future leadership positions in Irish industry.
While it may be impossible to ignore the pressing influence of the computing world, reliance on it comes a cost as information becomes ever more diffuse and subject to security threats. This creates an urgent need for quality IT security experts. A number of postgraduate options can help pave the way for people looking to move into this profitable and challenging sector.
Dublin City University’s MSc in Security and Forensic Computing (one year full time, two years part time) provides the latest knowledge in the prevention and detection of Cybercrime. Modules cover such fascinating topics as System Software, Network Security and Cryptography. Potential employers include law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, and software developers. IT Blanchardstown’s MSc in Computing – Information Security and Digital Forensics (one year full time) is a similar programme, with modules on topics such as Cyber Crime Investigation and Digital Forensics. Cork IT’s MSc in Networking and Security (one year full time, two years part time) is more focused on prevention than detection, although students are imparted with a sufficiently high level of technical competence to find roles as senior security personnel within large organisations.
With the growth in ICT in Ireland due to continue, maximise your employment prospects by researching your options for studying on Postgrad.ie
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