Dealing with Ireland’s Tech Talent Shortage

November 20, 2017

When Google, Apple and Facebook sit upon your land, you become a magnet for the world’s brightest tech stars.

Ireland has long been attracting this kind of talent. When Google first connected cables in Ireland in 2003, it was already home to HP, Symantec, SAP, Oracle, and Citibank. Dublin has risen to be a global tech hub and an abundance of talent sits at its feet.

Despite that abundance, demand is outpacing supply as indigenous and international organisations vie for these prize tech specialists. Almost daily, there’s another big tech jobs announcement in the media. But with the pool drying up, how do they plan on filling all these new positions?

Here are four approaches some of the most innovative companies in Ireland are adopting to deal with the tech talent shortage.

Employer Branding

Conscious of the leverage the hold, tech professionals have a new set of career expectations. While the role and remuneration are still important factors, today’s tech professionals want to work with companies that fit with their view of the world. This is more than just lunchtime beers and beanbags in the canteen. These people want to know why a business exists, what it stands for and how they can play a vital role in its continual evolution.

This is where employer branding comes into play, and it starts long before you post the job ad.

The best businesses realise this and are heavily invested in developing and promoting their employer brand. Interestingly, it is an approach best illustrated by smaller businesses. While they might not have the marketing, R&D and CSR budgets of the international behemoths, they also don’t have the corporate, stuffy baggage that often goes with it. They’ve managed to make the autonomy, agility and camaraderie of their smaller setup a strength and a selling tool for top tech talent. Just look at the Fintech industry and the migration of tech professionals from incumbent banks and insurers to smaller, often riskier start-ups.

Staff Augmentation

The no-strings-attached nature of outsourced resource empowers a business to rapidly pivot, flex and refine its proposition as market insight demands. Rather than face redundancies or the realisation you’ve employed the wrong sort of genius, an outsourced team, hand-picked from a pool of ready talent, can be recruited to your flanks in moments.

Plug and play teams, primed to go, embedded in their own culture and already accessing relevant benefits, change the face of deployment. No hammocks in your break-out area? No worries. These experts reside in their own hammocks (benches or chairs) in another part of the world, progressing work while you sleep.

Fish from another pool and the size, demands and attention of talent closer to home become a lesser concern. Meanwhile, your business benefits from the expert brains and scalable brawn of an outsource resourcing solution.

Restructuring Initiatives

Not every company looks externally when it comes to resourcing issues. There is a growing trend among businesses to look internally, restructures teams and even entire departments, to more efficiently meet their growth demands.

While a restructuring initiative may still need to be supplemented with an external recruitment drive, our experience, has been that the number of new recruits required tends to be significantly lower than initially envisaged. Considering the major investment each new employee represents, a restructuring initiative could potentially save your business a small fortune.

That said, it is not a magic bullet for a company’s resourcing problems. Restructuring is a very intensive process, requiring a huge amount on planning on behalf of senior management and the HR department. If you opt to go down the restructuring route, you need to plan carefully, allowing time for a thorough skills analysis, transition programme, training and support and monitoring processes.

Youth Initiatives

Perhaps the most disruptive approach being implemented by companies to shore up their tech gaps is the introduction of youth initiatives. The rise of coding groups, such as Coder Dojo, has created a generation of teens and young adults who are native coders.

Increasingly, organisations big and small are working to draw these natural coders into the business. While the programmes may be traditional – internships, apprenticeships, scholarships, etc. – the methods of sourcing are somewhat more novel.  From hackathons to coder tournaments, they’re intended to push their employer brands and entice them into a career in technology.

The desire to attract talent at such an early stage sums up how desperate shortage that exists in Ireland.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the tech talent shortage, and the limitations of the education system and infrastructure are unlikely to be remedied any time soon, we can be confident that so long as there is a demand for the very best talent, employers will continue to innovate new and smarter ways of filling the shortfall.

John MacHale is a consulting director with NashTech Ireland


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