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Wednesday 23 October 2019

Wage boom of €10,000 for tech workers as skills shortage begins to bite

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Anne-Marie Walsh

Computer software workers are enjoying a wage boom as their earnings soared by almost €10,000 in the last year.

But employees in industries including estate agencies, car sales and the wholesale trade suffered slumps of up to €804 over the same 12 months. As Leaving Cert students prepare to finalise their CAO choices, an Irish Independent survey shows the industries that are booming and those not faring as well on the wages front.

The most recent earnings figures show average wages grew at a modest 2pc to 3pc. The outlook for further earnings growth looks good, with the Central Bank and employer groups predicting pay hikes and unions seeking increases of at least 3.4pc.

But Brexit could trigger a harsh reversal. Some experts fear a hard Brexit could wipe almost 9pc off lower-skilled workers' wages over the coming decade, particularly those in agri-food.

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The wages survey shows those working in publishing, which includes software and computer games, newspapers and books, enjoyed the biggest increase, with average wages jumping from €60,244 to €68,890. Their earnings jumped by 16pc between the 12 months to June last year and the same time this year.

The earnings hike in the publishing sector was most likely driven by increases in software salaries as pay in the traditional publishing industry has been largely frozen. And it looks like there are more hikes in store for tech workers.

Acting director of Technology Ireland, Eoghan Ó Faoláin, said three-quarters of services companies, which include tech firms, expect to increase basic pay by almost 4pc next year.

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But he said the tightening of the Irish labour market is leading to problems sourcing talent.

"It is estimated there are over 12,000 vacancies in the technology sector in Ireland right now. The Irish education system alone will not be able to meet the exponential demand for tech skills," he said.

"To address this shortfall, the first port of call for tech employers is to seek employees from other EU member states. However, there is a global tech talent shortage."

A spokesperson for Microsoft, which owns Dublin-based computer game technology company Havoc, would not comment on its salary details.

But she said it "maintains a competitive compensation programme to continue to successfully attract and retain talent to support our business".

The lowest earners, on roughly €25,000 or less a year, work in crèches, charities, retail, hotels, sports clubs, computer repair, landscape gardening and restaurants.

Workers in the restaurant and catering industry have the lowest average salaries of €16,774 a year.

Irish Independent

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