MULTINATIONAL firms are hiring more and more staff from abroad due to an IT skills shortage here.
So far this year, the number of workers -- including IT specialists -- hired from outside the EU has risen to almost 2,300.
Figures from the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation reveal the number of employment permits granted to internet search website Google Ireland has trebled in a six-year period.
Edwina Shanahan, manager with www.visafirst.com, said, in their experience, a large number of employers in the IT sector end up having to look overseas.
"There has been an unprecedented demand from the IT industry demanding skilled staff and permits for non-nationals. The skill level required is just not available here in Ireland at the moment," Ms Shanahan said.
The number of work permits granted to Google Ireland rose from 49 in 2006 up to 148 last year, while the numbers hired by Wipro Technologies rose from 44 to 161.
Up until the end of September, Google Ireland were granted 91 permits, Facebook Ireland a further 86 and Dell Technology and Solutions Ltd have been granted 30.
A spokesman for Google said they work with businesses in more than 56 countries and often need to hire native language speakers and people who have local market knowledge.
"We therefore recruit across these markets to find the people we need, as well as recruiting in Ireland," the spokesman said.
The firm is currently advertising more than 100 jobs, mainly in sales and marketing, where language skills are required.
Kerry-based software firm Annadale has reported a shortage in the availability of computer programmers. Liz McCarthy, business development manager with Annadale, said they have occasionally opted to hire world-class developers on a contract basis to help them with major software projects.
"The demand for experienced programmers currently exceeds the supply," Ms McCarthy said, adding greater investment in information and communications technology was needed in secondary-schools.
"Most Irish young people are not exposed to the technology which powers the gadgets they use every day, as the standard of IT education in the Irish classroom leaves a lot to be desired," she said. However, the company found students were more than capable of working in software development after they ran a summer programme for teenagers in Kerry.
James Milligan, responsible for IT recruitment with Hays Ireland, said IT firms were currently trying to fill vacancies for Java development jobs with an annual salary of up to €60,000.
He said figures varied but it was estimated there were around 5,000 IT jobs unfilled.
"There is a global shortage of skills in new technology," he said. But he argued that companies should be training people rather than " trying to buy talent from overseas with the experience".
"That is a short term solution to the problem," he added.
The Government is trying to get workers to take up technology careers through conversion courses. It also started Project Maths in schools to improve the country's maths performance following repeated criticism of poor results.