Tech talent shortage
Image: wk1003mike/Shutterstock

How to deal with Ireland’s tech talent shortage

6 Sep 2017

It’s no secret that Ireland has a tech talent shortage. But how can we fix it? John MacHale of NashTech Ireland has some ideas.

When Google, Apple and Facebook sit upon your land, you become a magnet for the world’s brightest tech stars.

Ireland has long been attracting this kind of talent. When Google first connected cables in Ireland in 2003, it was already home to HP, Symantec, SAP, Oracle and Citibank. Dublin has risen to be a global tech hub, and an abundance of talent sits at its feet.

Despite that abundance, demand is outpacing supply as indigenous and international organisations vie for these prize tech specialists.

Almost daily, there’s another big tech jobs announcement in the media. But, with the pool drying up, how do they plan on filling all these new positions?

Here are four approaches some of the most innovative companies in Ireland are adopting to deal with the tech talent shortage.

Employer branding

Conscious of the leverage they hold, tech professionals have a new set of career expectations. While the role and remuneration are still important factors, today’s tech pros want to work with companies that fit with their view of the world.

This is more than just lunchtime beers and beanbags in the canteen. These people want to know why a business exists, what it stands for and how they can play a vital role in its continual evolution.

This is where employer branding comes into play, and it starts long before you post the job ad.

The best businesses realise this, and are heavily invested in developing and promoting their employer brand. Interestingly, it is an approach best illustrated by smaller outfits.

While they might not have the marketing, R&D and corporate social responsibility budgets of the international behemoths, they also don’t have the stuffy, corporate baggage that often goes with it.

They’ve managed to make the autonomy, agility and camaraderie of their smaller set-up a strength and a selling tool, one that appeals to top tech talent. Just look at the fintech industry and the migration of tech professionals from incumbent banks and insurers, to smaller, often riskier start-ups.

Staff augmentation

The ‘no-strings-attached’ nature of outsourced resources empowers a business to rapidly pivot, flex and refine its proposition as market insight demands.

Rather than face redundancies or the realisation that you’ve employed the wrong sort of genius, an outsourced team, handpicked from a pool of ready talent, can be recruited to your flanks in moments.

Plug-and-play teams – primed to go, embedded in their own culture and already accessing relevant benefits – change the face of deployment. No hammocks in your break-out area? No worries. These experts reside in their own hammocks (benches or chairs) in another part of the world, progressing work while you sleep.

Fish from another pool, and the size, demands and attention of talent closer to home become a lesser concern. Meanwhile, your business benefits from the expert brains and scalable brawn of an outsourced resourcing solution.

Restructuring initiatives

Not every company looks externally when it comes to resourcing issues. There is a growing trend among businesses to look internally, restructuring teams and even entire departments to more efficiently meet their growth demands.

While a restructuring initiative may still need to be supplemented with an external recruitment drive, our experience has been that the number of new recruits required tends to be significantly lower than initially envisaged.

Considering the major investment each new employee represents, a restructuring initiative could potentially save your business a small fortune.

That said, it is not a magic bullet for a company’s resourcing problems. Restructuring is a very intensive process, requiring a huge amount of planning on behalf of senior management and the HR department.

If you opt to go down this route, you need to plan carefully, allowing time for a thorough skills analysis, transition programme, training and support, and monitoring processes.

Youth initiatives

Perhaps the most disruptive approach being implemented by companies to shore up their tech gaps is the introduction of youth initiatives. The rise of coding groups, such as CoderDojo, has created a generation of teens and young adults who are native coders.

Increasingly, organisations big and small are working to draw these natural coders into their business. While the programmes may be traditional – internships, apprenticeships, scholarships etc – the methods of sourcing are somewhat more novel.

From hackathons to coder tournaments, they’re intended to push their employer brands and entice them into a career in technology.

The desire to attract talent at such an early stage sums up how desperate the shortage that exists in Ireland is.

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the tech talent shortage, and the limitations of the education system and infrastructure are unlikely to be remedied any time soon, we can be confident that, so long as there is a demand for the very best talent, employers will continue to innovate new and smarter ways of filling the shortfall.

By John MacHale

John MacHale is a consulting director with NashTech Ireland.

Loading now, one moment please! Loading