There’s no doubt that the semiconductor industry in Ireland is a thriving industry and has been for decades now. But even so, the growth it has experienced over the past few years has hinted at a brighter future than even the most optimistic of analysts could have predicted.
This has been bolstered by the fact that the global industry has seen a surge in demand. This has also led to a large number of startups launching products and services that complement the Irish semiconductor industry. As you may have guessed, this means an increase in job opportunities for the local industry and this looks set to continue certainly in the short-term as multiple businesses announce expansion plans for their Irish bases of operations.
However, along with these opportunities come several challenges that must be effectively addressed to ensure the industry's sustainable growth. But before we get to those let’s take a closer look at what the current market looks like.
Current State of the Semiconductor Industry in Ireland
Ireland has been a hub for the semiconductor industry for decades surviving several global recessions. This, of course, is in large part thanks to the tax breaks given to companies that move to Ireland and also the low corporate tax rate once those breaks are no longer in play.
As you may well know, Ireland is home to several multinational companies and that has resulted in an extensive ecosystem of suppliers and related tech startups. Intel's Leixlip campus is one of the most advanced manufacturing sites globally, and Analog Devices' presence in Limerick and Cork underscores Ireland's key role in this sector. This robust industry presence has set a solid foundation for job growth and innovation.
The recent news that US semiconductor manufacturer Analog Devices plans to build a €630 million facility in Co Limerick just reaffirms how stable the local industry is. This will see the company increase its local workforce by an impressive 600 jobs and follows the news that it will also invest €100 million in ADI Catalyst at its Limerick campus.
Safe to say that as it stands right now, the semiconductor jobs market is possibly one of the most active in Ireland and with this news, the market is likely going to get even busier.
Generally speaking, the biggest opportunity for growth in the global semiconductor industry is the ever-increasing demand for electronic devices coupled with the growth of the electric vehicle (EV) market. Both markets rely heavily on the semiconductor industry, and Ireland as a hub for the European market, is well-positioned to take advantage of this increase in demand.
As we saw with Analog Devices investment in its Limerick campus, there is considerable faith in the Irish jobs market and the European talent pool in general. So any prediction of industry growth and a surge in demand for relevant talent is quite possibly one of the safest bets you can make. While business analysts will tell you that there is no such thing as a sure thing, the Irish semiconductor jobs market is as close as they come. Well, from a candidate’s perspective at the very least. With the global talent shortage taking firm hold, we can expect a candidate-driven jobs market here in Ireland for the foreseeable future.
The global semiconductor industry is also undergoing considerable change which has led to major players in the industry looking to diversify their supply chains. Ireland, with its skilled workforce and unrivalled history in the business is a prime location for future investment. Add to that the fact that the stability of the local market makes Irish-based semiconductor companies an attractive option for long-term supply contracts, and you can see why there’s so much positivity surrounding the industry.
All that positivity aside, there are some obstacles that face the industry. One of the key challenges, which we have already alluded to, lies in attracting and retaining talent. As the semiconductor industry continues to evolve at a rapid pace, there's an increasing demand for highly skilled workers capable of managing and innovating within the ever-complex semiconductor industry. This, as noted earlier, is a global issue so simply looking outside the local talent pool won’t quite solve the problem although it certainly does help.
Hopefully, better working relationships between colleges and locally-based semiconductor companies will see more talent produced in Ireland. We’ve already seen the success that such graduate programmes can bring, so it’s no surprise that the likes of Microchip Technology Ireland and other semiconductor companies in Ireland are taking this approach.
Another and perhaps more significant challenge is one of environmental sustainability. Semiconductor companies require a lot of energy, leading to substantial carbon footprints. As global attention towards sustainability and environmental protection intensifies, semiconductor companies in Ireland will have to balance their growth with a commitment to environmental responsibility. This will hopefully be somewhat alleviated by Ireland’s move towards renewable energy.
Currently, around 40% of all electricity used in Ireland comes from renewable sources, but this still falls short of targets. Pricing of electricity in Ireland is also a hot topic right now, but for semiconductor companies based here, the source of that energy could be just as important in the near future.
To get past these challenges, the semiconductor industry and the Irish government will need to take a multi-faceted approach.
The talent shortage can be addressed by encouraging more strategic partnerships between companies and educational institutes. There needs to be more investment in STEM education and training with a view to encouraging more young people to join the industry and stay in Ireland due to the excellent job opportunities.
The government also needs to do its share. While the tax structure needs no adjustment, the supply of energy does. More work needs to be done to encourage the establishment of renewable energy farms and support given to investors in this area. Not only will this help companies to reduce their carbon footprints and costs associated with production but it would also make Ireland a more attractive option for non-Irish candidates.
While those challenges are certainly not insignificant, they are unlikely to pose any long-lasting threat to the Irish semiconductor industry. The way we see it, the market is going to continue on its upward trajectory resulting in plenty of great job opportunities in Ireland for enthusiastic and talented candidates.
If you’re a semiconductor employer looking for great candidates or you are a candidate interested in exploring opportunities in the Irish semiconductor industry, Software Placements wants to hear from you. Get in touch with us today and let’s talk about your plans for the future.