Ireland’s North West could be a cybersecurity powerhouse

New report forecasts that Ireland’s North West region could see growth in cybersecurity related jobs from 250 this year to 830 by 2030.

Ireland’s North West has strengths that could attract businesses seeking new locations for cybersecurity services.

That’s according to the Cyber Security Skills Audit report commissioned by Regional Skills North West and Cyber Ireland.

“It is a vibrant ecosystem with great potential to grow. It’s the first step in our journey to build this sector to be one of the leaders in our region”

With the right investment, the North West region could see growth in cybersecurity related jobs quadruple from 250 this year to 830 jobs by 2030.

Core strengths

The research reveals that the region has a number of core strengths that make it an attractive location for cybersecurity investment including a new university in the area, Atlantic Technological University, that now delivers specific IT and cyber security degree and post graduate programmes.

The report identifies at least 10 organisations offering cybersecurity services within the region including large multinational operators, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) via its Letterkenny Global Delivery Centre and Optum, the international healthcare services provider, who have stated ambitions to further recruit and grow their cyber security skills talent base locally.

“This study rightly identifies the urgent need to accelerate investment to satisfy the demand for security skills,” said Tim Kelley, Strategic Head of Tata Consulting Services (TCS) Threat Management Centres in UK, Ireland and Europe.

“Our TCS Cyber Security Practice is committed to grow and strengthen our Ireland Threat Management Centre to service our customers’ needs from our global delivery centre in Letterkenny.” 

He added: “I wholly support the report’s recommendations to ensure Ireland-based talent can deliver on the global opportunities in the cybersecurity sector.”  

Other strengths identified in the report that make the North West region an attractive location for cybersecurity investment include the lower cost base for both employers and employees, in terms of housing, commercial rents and labour costs, the quality of life in the region and the access provided to nearby tech collaborative clusters, including Donegal Digital, Northern Ireland Cyber and Cyber Ireland’s West Chapter.

Co-author of the ‘Cyber Security Skills Audit Report’, Hilary McPartland, manager of the North West Regional Skills Forum said: “This report has captured the opportunity for cybersecurity in the North West.  It finds a vibrant ecosystem with great potential to grow. It’s the first step in our journey to build this sector to be one of the leaders in our region. I look forward to helping develop the talent and skills needed to support this dynamic sector vital to our economy and future success.”

Cyber Ireland’s ‘State of the Cyber Security Sector in Ireland 2023’ report estimates that there are currently 7,350 cyber professionals in the Republic of Ireland of which approximately 3% of these are now based in the NW region.

This latest study puts forward a number of recommendations for improvement and expansion of the cyber security sector within the region that require investment and supports now in order to realise the potential opportunities. This includes the creation of a cybersecurity culture through cyber awareness training for SMEs, driving cyber security standards in the region and enhancing the overall cyber community through more events and networking opportunities. 

Continuing to build a talent pipeline from within the region for cyber jobs will also be critical with resources needed to raise awareness of career pathways and job readiness programmes facilitating entry into the sector. Findings from the study indicated that only 30% of cyber roles in the North West are filled by people from within the region.

Regional Skills North West and Cyber Ireland are now calling on all stakeholders in the region to pull together to grasp this growth opportunity by promoting awareness of the North West’s burgeoning cybersecurity ecosystem, its attractiveness as a location and the important contribution it can make to the local economy and innovation in the region.

“As both a business stakeholder and chapter lead for Cyber Ireland, I am excited to see this report come to fruition,” said Paul Brady, Senior Director, Enterprise Information Security at Optum.

“The report offers clear and sensible direction to promote the growth of cybersecurity in the North West region and I welcome the recommendation that now is the time to invest in cyber talent to take advantage of the opportunities ahead of us.”

Main image at top: Tim Kelley, Tata Consultancy Services; Hilary McPartland, North West Regional Skills; and Paul Brady, Optum

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.