Wednesday 18 October 2017

More than half IT jobs are filled by foreigners

New report reveals a vast skills gap

Louise McBride

Louise McBride

More than half of IT jobs in Dublin are being lost to people from abroad because of a shortage of talent here, according to a new report which will be published next week. The report, by UCD and Dublin City Council, warned that the shortage of local talent is damaging Dublin's prospects of attracting overseas investment.

"The information and communications technology sector, which continues to grow and attract companies such as Facebook, Google and IBM, sources about 55 per cent of its high-skill positions through inward migration, although with increasing difficulty as these skills are also in high demand globally," said the report. "With high global demand, these companies are finding attracting workers more difficult, thus weakening Dublin's talent pool and attractiveness to such companies."

Although the report focuses on Dublin, it is likely that IT jobs across the rest of Ireland are being lost to a similar degree to people from abroad, according to UCD professor Brendan Williams, a co-author of the report.

"If you haven't got the talent pool in Dublin, similar problems would arise in other cities," he said.

The report, which is being included in a major international study by the World Class Cities Partnership in Boston, places some of the blame for the IT skills shortage on the shoulders of the Irish property bubble.

"The skills mismatch problem is evident in Ireland where the property bubble-based economy of the early 2000s relied heavily on the construction trades, and many Irish trained and gained skills related to the building industry," said the report.

"When the construction bubble burst, many workers found themselves with skills unrelated to other sectors, including the hi-tech sector. Dublin needs to be creating the right job opportunities; however, these jobs will not be created if we do not have a strong talent base in place."

In particular, IT companies based in Dublin have difficulty attracting skilled computer software engineers, network specialists, security experts and sales and marketing personnel with a technical background.

The crash in the property market may make it easier to attract talent here, according to Prof Williams.

"Every company across the world is looking for similar skills, which are in shortage," he said. "If every company is looking for the same things, being able to attract the right staff to a country will often come down to quality of life. With the correction in the property market, we have seen housing prices in Dublin stabilise at more affordable levels, which is an advantage in attracting and retaining human talent."

Last month, Fast-track to IT (FIT), whose board includes Microsoft, AOL, CISCO, Paypal, IBM and Siemens, warned that as many as 4,500 jobs are unfilled in Ireland because of a shortage of IT skills.

Irish Independent

Also in Business