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Sunday, September 7, 2008

Opportunities in Ireland



From being considered `the beggar of Europe’ 20 years ago with an unemployment rate of 20%, today, Ireland is one of the most thriving economies in the world. In fact, its economic conversion even earned it the name, ‘Celtic Tiger’. The country is, now, a favoured destination for many international companies doing business in Europe, attracted by the low corporate taxes and an educated, English-speaking population.

The launch of the graduate work scheme in April 2007 has made it easier for Indian students to take advantage of the island’s economic boom. The new scheme allows non-EU graduates to remain in Ireland for a period of six months after the completion of one’s studies, to seek employment and apply for a green card/ work permit. The green card/ work permit scheme has only recently been established in Ireland for occupations where high-level skill shortages exist, such as the IT and healthcare sectors.

“I studied in India and, now, I am pursuing research in Ireland. When I return home, I will take this experience with me and have a good blend of the East and West that would help me with my future prospects. Students of power and energy are in high demand and companies like Siemens are always looking for good students from Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT),” informs Malabika Basu, from the School of Electrical Engineering Systems, DIT.

Further, students are confident of finding jobs in skill shortage areas that would fetch them 60,000 to 80,000 euros a year. This helps them to not only clear their student debts but also to gain international work experience, which has become an added advantage in the marketplace.


Indian companies such as Reliance, Tata and Wockhardt have recently made an entry into the Irish economy. Talking about the work environment, Manish Gupta, managing director, Pinewood Healthcare, Ireland, said,“The workforce in Ireland is hardworking and since it is a newly emerging economy, they do not while away time resting on their past laurels.”

Wockhardt India has now acquired the company. Gupta further added, “When you acquire another company, the expectations are higher. We are the largest Indian investment in Ireland.” He feels that because of a global marketplace, most companies are keen to have an international workforce that can adapt to change and therefore, students today enjoy more opportunities. According to Vijay Harikumar, MBA student at University College Dublin (UCD) Michael Smurfit School of Business, social skills are as important as good academic scores. “Ireland is a small country, and the biggest challenge is to fit into the social network. I have started playing rugby and also visit pubs to make new friends,” he said.

The general impression of Indian students is that they are hard-working and do well academically. “Indian students are conscious of the sacrifices that their families have made to fund their studies overseas, hence they are very driven and make the most of the opportunities. However, they are not always well- rounded, and need to focus on networking, as that is very important in the job market,” opined Damien McLoughlin, Faculty Member, UCD Michael Smurfit School of Business. Last year, McLoughlin also taught at the Indian School of Business (ISB), Hyderabad for a semester.

“Employers (in the IT sector) look for certain core abilities in graduates applying for a job, the first being knowledge about their field. Not just the coursework, but how much interest they have in their area of specialisation,”informed Anirudh Tyagi, Consultant, We Do Technologies and an alumnus of Trinity College, Dublin.

Research Quotient

The country has also exhibited a strong push towards industry-academia collaboration. There are several joint research programmes funded by government agencies, such as the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) and Enterprise Ireland, as well as corporates. “The government has invested over 150 million euros in innovation and research and is keen to double its PhD intake by 2010,” states Gearoid Mooney, Enterprise Ireland.

Further, in order to attract the best brains for research from across the world, many institutes have waived the non-EU fees. For Thejesh Bandi, a physics student from IISc (Indian Institute of Science), Bangalore, it was the strong links with the industry that propelled him to move to Ireland to pursue further research in quantum optics.

Many institutes have opened business incubation centres on campus to encourage budding researchers to become entrepreneurs. “The Rubicon Centre is home to the IT industry. We have around 38 companies working from the centre. It provides our students an opportunity to work on a concept and develop it into a product under the supervision of a company,” said Michael Loftus, head, School of Computing and Mathematics, Cork Institute of Technology (CIT).

In 1984, the University of Limerick, in partnership with Shannon Development and other local agencies established Ireland’s first science and technology park. Since its inception, the National Technology Park has become home to more than 80 organisations, employing over 3,000 skilled people.The park acts as a research and development centre, while also providing employment to graduates.

What Scores

Justine V McCarthy, department of biochemistry, University College Cork (UCC), said, “When we receive applications from international students for fully-paid summer internships, we look at their references, academic scores, institute’s reputation and research experience. We even have students from IIT-Guwahati on SFI-funded internships in our department.”

While on the workfront, Anirudh recounts his experience: “After graduating, I was called for an interview by an IT company and was tested on my general technical knowledge as well as asked to elaborate on subjects covered in my course, specifically in my final year project. The final year project in engineering at Trinity College, Dublin, is a subject in itself and responsible for about 20% of the final score. The same holds true for most engineering colleges in Ireland. I was later called for a second interview.This was non-technical in nature and was designed to evaluate my ability to handle myself within a team environment — how I would conduct myself in face-to-face dealings with customers.”

However, P S Raghavan, Indian ambassador to Ireland, cautions students, saying,“A job should not be the only criterion for a student to go overseas to study. Factors that should influence their decision are — fees, value for money and the returns. They should match their needs and skills to the skill shortage areas, to gain work experience. ”

To ensure that students do not get short-changed, Seamus Puirseil, chief executive, Higher Education and Training Awards Council (HETAC), Ireland, reiterated,“Students should beware of studying in institutes that are not accredited and not part of the HETAC framework.” For more information visit

Sunil Sharma


Dil Se Desi Group

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