Grand and less grand assemblies of the good and not so good have gathered over the last few years united by a stated desire to resurrect Ireland from the builder’s rubble of the recent financial calamity. Many of the voiced aspirations are lofty and aspirational and Technology Voice offers what support it can to any activity which shows promise of getting Ireland on its feet and fighting fit again.
That is all very nice, but no amount of ‘help’ in the form of ambitious sentiment and rhetorical incitements to action can take the place of people being rewarded for their efforts through working in wealth creating jobs.
While the general economy still leaves much to be desired, Ireland’s Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT) sector is a gem not only in the country’s crown but Europe’s as well — so carpet baggers need not apply.
According to these remarkable figures supplied to us by the Irish Business and Employers Confederation the ICT sector is not just surviving but is actually thriving.
All of the top 10 technology companies are present in Ireland
Current employment: 90,000+
Employment growth: 6% in 2009; 4% in 2010
Jobs announcements: 3,500 in 2010; over 4,000 in 2011
6,000 + jobs announced in 2012
5 of the top 10 exporters are technology companies
Total number of ICT enterprises: 5,402 – most are services
233 foreign owned ICT companies
Ireland receives one third of US European-investment
39% foreign owned which represents 99% of turnover of ICT Manufacturing in Ireland
Average people employed in an ICT manufacturing company: 173 people; turnover: €230 million
51% of total ICT turnover
45% foreign owned which represents 88% of turnover in ICT Services in Ireland
Average number employed: 11; turnover: €7 million
49% of total ICT turnover
Certainly, there is a way to go. In the temporary absence of a robust financial system, riskier innovation will need outside financing and International companies, large and small, will always be welcomed.
However, the most pressing need in the ICT sector at the moment is appropriately skilled people.
John Dennehy is trying to solve this problem from two angles. The first is with the recently launched Zartis of which he is the CEO. It is a web based recruitment service that promotes job opportunities that a company may have through the use of social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter. The Zartis software can then, in turn, help manage the responses from applicants. Storing their CVs in a database and so on.
According to John, “It is basically a software tool to find the right talent.”
“We have spent the last eight months working with a group of companies in Dublin. Talking to them about what the need and the types of people they need to hire. We spent a lot of time talking to the recruiting teams in the multi-nationals and the feedback is consistently that we need more people with IT skills, marketing, business analytics, and operations.”
Another category that is much desired by employers are people with native-language skills.
“The makeup of a lot of the jobs in the software sector come from the fact that we have a lot of US multi-nationals based over here and … they are serving local European countries. So if you are serving into a local European country the chances are you need a local language skill.
“At the moment in Ireland, there is an awful lot of people looking for people with native German skills, Dutch skills and Nordic language skills.”
This is understandable as, “They are the strongest economies that are the growing the fastest and buying the most products.”
Even with a sickening unemployment rate of 14+% unemployment rate, there are not enough Irish people with the requisite skills.
A solution to this shortfall is to bring people in from other countries that can do the jobs that are being offered. The question is how? Despite the astonishing health and promise of the ICT sector a casual overseas observer of Irish affairs could be forgiven, (even if mistaken) for thinking that the country was a basket case.
This is where John’s other project, Make IT in Ireland takes on significance.
“Make IT in Ireland is a completely industry-led project. We are trying to reach out to the people in Europe to effectively inform them of the opportunities that are here.”
Using some of the technology from Zartis it also uses social media to let people in Europe who have an interest in the ICT sector about the possibilities that are available in Ireland for employment and career progress.
“When people come to the Make IT in Ireland site we tell them about Ireland and about how to come over here. It also links them into the careers sites for the multi-national companies (MNC). The other thing we do is to allow the individual to submit their CV into a CV database so that any of the recruiters from the MNCs can log in and see those CVs.
“Make IT in Ireland is not a philanthropic venture. It is sponsored by business. Effectively, a group of multi-nationals run the project and we are paid to run it but on their behalf. The multi-nationals wouldn’t be paying money if there wasn’t a gap.
“There are no agencies or other companies, that I am aware of, that specifically have a major focus on targeting everyday people that might work in the technology sector and try and get them to move over to Ireland.”
Unlike the opportunities for talking and ‘exchanging ideas’ the opportunities for action are always constrained by relevance and time. Neither of which care for sentiment, however noble. As John warns:
“We need people with customer service skills, marketing skills and native-language skills. We need all of them here in Ireland. And if we don’t get them here and if the skills don’t come here to work with multi-nationals then the jobs will be set up in the local territory.”