Tech workers increasingly attracted to start-ups for variety and challenge

17 Sep 2014

Some 45pc of IT workers in Ireland would consider moving jobs to a start-up or an established SME rather than work at a multinational, according to new research.

The survey by Brightwater Recruitment reveals IT workers are less Googley-eyed about perks in multinationals – including free food and healthcare – and are now opting for start-up land for variety and challenge.

Just 15pc of IT professionals said they would choose to work for an established multinational. This compares with 35pc of professionals just a year ago.

When results are broken down further, the data suggests a majority of software engineers have a preference to work with more established small to medium-sized businesses.

According to comments made by respondents of this year’s survey, the amount of choice available to many developers allows them to make slightly riskier decisions and take a chance on joining a start-up company.

“If the role doesn’t work out or the company isn’t successful, they can usually find alternative employment quickly,” said Hugh McCarthy, manager, Brightwater IT division.

“Other comments suggest that the draw towards start-ups for developers lies in the perceived flexibility of smaller companies, their tendency towards innovation and the perception they have their fingers on the pulse of the local IT market.

“In contrast, the majority of project managers, creative and infrastructure professionals had a preference for employment in a multinational organisation.

“This may relate to a perception of security or more international opportunity for advancement,” said McCarthy.

Salaries still trump challenge

While salary and benefit packages (23pc) are at the forefront of deciding whether or not to accept a job offer, this is closely followed (22pc) by the offer of interesting projects and a challenging work environment (18pc).

“Exposure to new technologies, new ways of working and new experiences are also key factors alongside salaries in attracting and retaining people,” said McCarthy.

The number of jobs that are becoming available to candidates, especially in the areas of software development (Python, Java and Ruby), IT security (risk, compliance and network security), as well as business intelligence (OBIEE, Microsoft Bl) is increasing year on year. This can be attributed to the increase in the number of new companies (indigenous and multinational) based in Ireland, and the increase in funding available for companies already in the country.

When respondents were asked when they intend to look at new employment opportunities, more than 59pc said they are looking immediately or plan to look within 12 months. This has major implications for employers who need to look at their retention strategies and consider succession planning.

The 2014 survey also showed an increasing optimism towards contracting, with a majority of respondents either interested or potentially interested in looking at contracting opportunities. Of those respondents who were employed in a permanent role, 58pc (compared to 48pc last year) were either interested (19pc) or potentially interested (38.9pc) in looking at contract opportunities over the next 12 months.

“We attribute this increase to rising confidence in the market, with very competitive rates on offer for candidates with key skill sets and many opportunities available, meaning there is more chance of finding further employment at the end of the contract period.

Skills misalignment

The survey also showed there is still a feeling of misalignment between what the universities in Ireland are delivering and what industry is demanding in terms of skills. Thirty-five per cent of respondents feel that the universities are providing the skills and knowledge needed, while a slight majority, 36pc, believe they are not.

Broken down by profession, QA/testers, at 64pc, felt they were most aligned, followed by business analysts (53pc) and infrastructure professionals (48pc). With the more technical disciplines, the majority of respondents held a negative view. Within software development, for example, 40pc of respondents felt that universities did not equip graduates with the knowledge required, compared to 31pc who believed the opposite.

“The overall message of this year’s survey is positive,” McCarthy said. “Respondents believe that opportunities and salaries are on the rise and as a result they feel confident in looking at new opportunities and moving job.

“While salaries in IT in Ireland are not yet at the levels being paid in California or London, for example, there may be a danger as rates push upwards we may become less competitive and therefore more likely to lose potential jobs to other countries.

“Companies are faced with the challenge of attracting and retaining the people they need in the organisation, while adhering to tight budgets. As a technology community, the challenge is to reward people appropriately for innovation, skill and productivity, while at the same time remaining competitive in the international market,” McCarthy said.

Human capital image via Shutterstock

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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