Software skills shortage drives a boom for IT contractors
Mouna Kenzaoui, founder and CEO of Martinsen Mayer

Software skills shortage drives a boom for IT contractors

15 Jul 2014

A shortage of people with skills in Java, Android and iOS development willing to work on a permanent basis is contributing to a boom in IT contracting in Ireland, a prominent IT recruiter revealed.

The summer of 2014 is proving to be one of the busiest and most difficult in the history of IT recruitment in Ireland, with demand peaking for coveted IT skills during the second quarter, according to Mouna Kenzaoui, founder and CEO of Martinsen Mayer.

Kenzaoui also pointed out that IT companies are sourcing highly skilled IT consultants from across Europe to complete projects.

“Q2 saw demand increase for development skills in Java, Android and iOS and it is still proving very difficult to source more specialist skills such as SAP consultants, or other ERP systems such as Oracle, on a permanent basis.

“The contract market will grow, particularly if clients have to attract candidates from more mature markets, such as the UK. Countries such as the UK, Netherlands and Germany have more established contractor populations and clients in Ireland will have to pay higher rates to persuade highly skilled consultants to come over to Dublin, in particular.

“IT contractors are well aware how expensive Dublin has become, especially when they factor in accommodation and flight costs, so they expect packages to reflect this. The strength of sterling is also against the Irish IT sector when it comes to attracting candidates from that geography,” Kenzaoui said.

She added that consequently, more and more companies are looking at sourcing skilled IT workers from Ukraine, Russia and South Africa.

“Competition is very high, and on top of this, candidates are also very confident and very choosy – for instance, a Java developer might have five interviews going on at any one time. HR and talent teams have to work hard with their suppliers to ensure that candidates are not lost in the process through indecision or poor communication.”

Europe is fair game

With most of Europe is now considered fair game for supply of IT workers, Kenzaoui said IT companies now have people in many cities in Europe searching for talent.

“Poland was always a common search ground for the software sector, but that has expanded to include Romania, Bulgaria, Croatia and Serbia, as well as the ongoing influx of the Spanish, Italian and Portuguese candidates.”

She said road shows and trade fairs in these locations are becoming more prevalent.

“Companies are still quite particular, and we have seen good candidates rejected on technicalities. The same candidate will be working somewhere else the following week, so I believe that hiring criteria might soften as the shortage gets more extreme.”

Kenzaoui said firms and recruiters need to invest time in understanding the decision-making process of overseas candidates.

“It is not right to assume that everything is better in Ireland compared to a candidate’s home country. The motivations to move can vary, from improving their English, increasing their salary, to working in a particular industry sector. At the same time, with high unemployment in Spain, Portugal and Greece, it is clear that the motivation to move to Ireland is not for the weather.

“Central European candidates are very conscious of cost and take-home pay. Companies have to understand that their employees have to enjoy working in Ireland, and will only stay if they can afford to live comfortably.

“USC (universal social charge), water rates, property tax, high rent, food prices, etc, are all part of the decision-making process if a candidate decides to move.

“They will naturally compare Ireland to other locations as part of their career-development plans and whether they can afford to be here. For candidates with families, paying health insurance might be a deal breaker,” Kenzaoui said.

John Kennedy
By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years. His interests include all things technological, music, movies, reading, history, gaming and losing the occasional game of poker.

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