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Ireland's Digital Economy

105k employees

40% of exports

16% growth p.a.

IRL 1st for business Forbes

The digital technology sector contributes 4.4% to Ireland’s GDP, and is growing at 16% per year – that is more than 10 times the rate of growth of the economy as a whole.

With exports worth €72 billion per annum (40% of total national exports) and four of the top five exporters in Ireland being technology companies, this sector is a major employer, accounting for an estimated 105,000 employees.

Salary Survey 2016

In 2016, we have seen significant growth in the digital/tech market.

The sector is certainly busy, and the second quarter of 2016 saw a significant upsurge in hiring activity. At the time of writing, the economy faces a few uncertainties, such as the outcome of Brexit, but stripping away the imponderables, we envisage continuing growth in hiring activity as the sector continues to represent an ever increasing share of Irish GDP.

A buoyant economy brings its own problems for hiring managers, and we are seeing staff retention difficulties in advertising agencies and smaller and medium Irish enterprises.

Anecdotally, we are hearing that some business owners have lost up to 25% of their staff to bigger multinationals who can offer more attractive salaries, bonuses and benefits, and the glamour of having a large international brand on one’s CV.

Although this hiring traffic is not entirely a one way street –

There are a number of Irish founded businesses who have been excelling on the world stage, notably Stripe who this year have been establishing their European HQ in Dublin’s Silicon Docks, but also such fantastic Irish companies such as Intercom, Newswhip and 3d4Medical.

The success of these companies has had extremely positive reverberations in the Irish digital community; and is testament to the fact that Dublin is managing to attract and retain international talent.

Many international candidates were first attracted to Dublin to work for the multinationals, and previously, when they changed jobs they tended to move between the behemoths – from Google to Facebook or vice versa - but we are finding that these candidates are now far more inclined to move to indigenous companies and this reservoir of talent is a major factor in the success of these companies.

Of course Irish business has had to re-examine their packages to make them more attractive to talent. Some Irish businesses are doing a great job of addressing the challenge of attracting and retaining staff, offering good salaries, more flexi-time, 4 day weeks and the opportunity to work from home.

Further to this, Irish companies have become increasingly innovative in their benefits - often simply offering health insurance and contributory pensions doesn't quite cut it anymore, and free food, social clubs, education, income protection and many other benefits are beginning to appear on job offers.

Another advantage Irish businesses can offer is that they often have a 360 development cycle on their products and services, from concept to roll out, and this can be a determining factor in attracting top talent.

In terms of salaries for strong digital savvy and tech candidates, the fact that demand is outstripping supply has driven salary growth by between 5-10% on last year.

The mix of companies seeking digital talent has also seen a significant change. Whereas previous years had seen us working mostly with pure play digital and tech companies and agencies, in 2016 we are seeing a dramatic increase in requirements from more traditional sectors – construction and architecture, food and beverages, engineering etc. We are finding that many small to medium enterprises in these sectors have been previously focused on traditional / offline marketing activities if any form of marketing at all, and they are now looking to expand their digital reach by establishing ecommerce platforms, or by leveraging social media, search engines and other online channels. We are seeing a significant demand from these enterprises for web designers / UX specialists and ecommerce, online marketing / social media and content specialists.

In terms of the skills that are in demand, there remains a shortage of developers, particularly Java, .NET, Python, Ruby on Rails and Scala. In advertising, Programmatic is a skill which is in demand on both agency and client side. We are also experiencing strong demand from the SMBs in traditional sectors who are building their own internal digital teams, with requirements for design and build specialists, ecommerce professionals, and PPC, SEO, and general digital marketing candidates.

With a possible need to now circumvent the UK market and increase online reach to more far flung markets, we foresee continuing strong growth in digital hiring requirements across all sectors of the Irish economy. And if indeed we do manage to attract more FDI and UK and US companies to this only English speaking country in the EU, we hope to see a significant increase in hiring activity across both the indigenous and international levels of the digital sector in Ireland for the remaining quarters of 2016 and into 2017.

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