Business Management

Kevin Norlin (Ireland) - Cork: The Beating Heart of the IT Industry in Ireland

In recent months, Cork's status as a high-tech hub and centre for emerging technologies has exploded with many multinational organisations, including Quest Software, opening operations across the city. With a focus on innovation and growth, such developments have brought new opportunities for professionals and the economy. Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) has played an important role for Ireland during a difficult economic time, with Ireland receiving the fifth largest amount of FDI in Europe in 2010, behind Belgium, Germany, the UK and France. Total US investment in Ireland reached more than €1,190 billion last year with US companies employing more than 100,000 people directly in Ireland.

This is all happening at a time when the demand for technology courses in Ireland is on the increase. Institutes such as University College Cork and the Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) have undoubtedly experienced increased vigour over the past year as their switched-on graduates make the leap into the expanding business community who are supporting the market by creating job openings and providing training. Sean Flynn at the Irish Times recently reported that the CAO points required for entry to third-level courses in science, technology and engineering are set to increase this year as students opt for courses with better job prospects, noting that there has been a 1.7% increase in demand for these courses.

Batt O'Keefe, the then Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Innovation, recently highlighted that the number of technology companies setting up in Ireland is very encouraging for the economy, particularly as eight of the world's top 10 technology firms are based in Ireland. For Quest in particular, opening a shared-services operation in Cork recently has meant expanding the company's Irish presence, using the Cork operation to hub its European activities.

Working closely with IDA Ireland, Quest conducted a global evaluation of sites before selecting Cork as its base. The pre-purchase of the new base at City Gate Park will see the company vacate the space it currently occupies in favour of a larger 70,000 sq ft premises by August 2012. Drawing a parallel with Google's recent foray into the Dublin property market, the decision to buy rather than rent demonstrates our long-term commitment to Ireland. We see this as an important investment, not only to the local community, but to the future of the IT sector as a whole in Ireland.

At this time, students and experienced professionals are looking for opportunities in industries that are not only recruiting, but also allow them to work in their local communities, rather than having to travel abroad to do a similar job. Our expansion alone has allowed for an expected recruitment of around 150 employees by 2013. We're also delighted to be in talks with University College Cork and the IT colleges around curriculums and prospective students in order to nurture and provide opportunities for future talent.

The caliber and aptitude of talent that we're particularly seeing in the region is evidently a strong indicator behind why Ireland has been so successful in attracting leading organisations to the market. It is also essential that the education system continues to innovate and support young people with courses, such as the Cloud Computing degree created by CIT. This type of investment in the local community is an example that should be repeated around the country, as it can only be a good thing helping to position Cork at the heart of the ever growing IT industry in Ireland.

By Kevin Norlin, General Manager for Quest Software in Europe, the Middle East and Africa



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