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Irish Gen Z grads turn away from multinationals to SMEs, survey suggests

13 Jun 2023

Some Big Tech employers fared better than others when it came to holding on to their reputations in Universum’s latest Most Attractive Employers index.

Tech giants like Google, Intel and Apple are still very much considered desirable companies to work for by Irish Gen Z graduates. However, when it comes to the size of organisations where IT students want to work, large companies are down by 12pc on last year, while small to medium-sized organisations are up by the same percentage.

That’s according to the latest Most Attractive Employers Index Ireland 2023. The index was carried out by Universum, part of IrishJobs and the StepStone Group. It surveyed more than 8,000 students across several different disciplines to find out what employers they hoped to work for after graduating.

Last year’s survey results were heavily in favour of multinationals, with Google, Microsoft, Apple, Intel and Amazon all mentioned as top picks. This year, however, the landscape has shifted slightly, with more smaller organisations coming to the fore.

This is not a huge switch, but it is noticeable. Some Big Tech employers fared better than others when it came to holding on to their reputations.

This year, IT students ranked Google as their top employer, which was unchanged from last year. Apple ranked second, followed by Microsoft, Intel and Amazon. TikTok was a new entrant this year, placing at ninth ahead of Activision Blizzard and behind Samsung.

Engineering students’ choice of Intel as the most attractive employer was likewise unchanged from last year. However, pharma giant Pfizer pipped Google to take the second spot. After Google in third, Apple and Boston Scientific came in in fourth and fifth respectively.

Success for pharma employers

The presence of medtech companies in the engineering students’ list is a win for pharma employers. Johnson & Johnson ranked in eighth place, while Microsoft slipped from third last year to seventh place this year.

For natural sciences students, pharma companies also placed well. Pfizer was the most desired employer, followed by Johnson & Johnson, Boston Scientific, Glanbia and the HSE. Google and Intel placed midway and last on that list respectively.

Google did, however, manage to rank second in the most attractive employers for humanities students, just behind the Department of Education and ahead of RTÉ.

In terms of the greatest gains overall in 2023, Tesco has risen in popularity among IT and natural sciences students. Adobe moved up 27 places among engineering students and it also increased in popularity among business and economics students. Penneys rose 48 places among IT students and 14 places among engineering students.

Tech job cuts may be a factor

Steve Ward, UK and Ireland business director at Universum, pointed out that the change could have something to do with “headlines around job losses at major tech companies”.

Some of the companies that had noticeable falls this year, such as Meta and Amazon, did announce job cuts in the past few months.

Ward noted that finance grads were moving back to their traditional backgrounds of auditing while manufacturing, construction and pharma have all gained from engineering students’ changing attitudes to tech employers.

“Tech multinationals have also lost some ground among engineering students this year, while manufacturing, construction and pharmaceutical companies have all moved up the ranks. Meanwhile, although Google, Apple and Microsoft continue to be the top three employers for IT students, we are seeing some interesting movement towards SMEs, which suggests that smaller, local companies are playing a role in helping to pick up surplus digital talent.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea worked as a Careers reporter until 2024, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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