Tuesday 25 October 2016

Foreign workers in Irish tech firms expect less pay

Four in five Irish-based technology firms hired a worker based outside Ireland last year, says Gavin McLoughlin

Published 10/01/2016 | 02:30

Abrivia managing director Donal O’Brien. Photo: Silver Image
Abrivia managing director Donal O’Brien. Photo: Silver Image

Irish-based tech firms are turning to foreign workers in droves to combat a skills shortage and save money, according to new research.

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More than four in five tech firms hired a worker based outside Ireland last year, according to a survey of 4,000 companies (across multiple sectors) by the recruitment firm Abrivia.

Furthermore, over half of the foreign-based people hired had lower salary expectations than Irish applicants.

"Some 81pc of firms in the information and communications technology (ICT) sector employed a candidate based outside Ireland in 2015. And 53pc of those hires had lower salary expectations than Irish applicants.

"This suggests ICT firms are willing to look beyond Irish candidates, with lower salary expectations likely an attraction," Abrivia said, adding that the EU talent pool had "dried up considerably".

Abrivia managing director Donal O'Brien told the Sunday Independent that ICT firms face particular challenges in finding people skilled in the computer language Java and tailoring the experience that users have with ICT products.

He added that there had been a surge in demand for people with skills in computer security, after a number of high-profile corporate data breaches in 2015.

"A lot of companies, either with the use of recruitment companies or even directly, have looked within the EU...we've actively recruited people from Poland, Portugal Spain for Irish clients of ours.

"I guess a lot of companies have broadened the net in terms of their search for good talent; it's a global war on talent now. So a lot of companies have looked to places like Brazil, China and India."

Despite most foreign candidates having lower salary expectations, it did not mean that they were necessarily paid less once hired.

"Particularly if you're a larger company, you have to keep people in line with what equivalent people are being paid within the organisation.

"That's not to say that on occasion some of these people will move to Ireland because they're getting a salary increase, but those companies are paying them slightly less than the market rate in Ireland. That does happen but I wouldn't say that's frequent.

"Naturally, they'll have lower salary expectations because they're probably coming from a market where they're being paid less than they would be in an Irish context," he added.

The findings are likely to amplify calls for Irish children to start to learn coding skills in school.

In November Google Ireland boss Ronan Harris wrote that Ireland was "behind the curve" in developing students' computer skills.

More jobs are likely to materialise in the sector in 2016. The survey found that more tech companies planned to increase staff numbers this year than last. In 2016, 95pc will look to increase numbers, a 28 percentage point increase.

Furthermore, 96pc of tech firms planned to increase salaries this year - up from 75pc last year.

Sunday Indo Business

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