IT work permit scheme will create immediate opportunities for Irish tech employers
IT entrepreneur and investor Sean O'Sullivan urges Irish employers wrestling with skills shortages to act now to take advantage of the new work permit reform rules

IT work permit scheme will create immediate opportunities for Irish tech employers

11 Apr 2013

Major work permit and educational reforms announced yesterday by the Irish Government will result in immediate opportunities for employers in the local tech sector, tech investor, entrepreneur and Dragons’ Den star Sean O’Sullivan says.

O’Sullivan said the new jobs plan will trade on Ireland’s strategy to be the best place to start and grow tech businesses.

Yesterday, the Government announced a series of reforms to enhance Ireland’s standing as the internet capital of Europe.

In addition to providing an additional 2,000 ICT graduates in the next year, the reforms are geared to provide Ireland with the highest proportion of ICT graduates as a share of third-level graduates by 2018.

But crucially the reforms provided for an increase of 50pc, or 700, in the number of employment permits granted over the coming year in the ICT sector.

They also provide for a reduction of 33pc in the processing time for employment permits.

O’Sullivan sees this as an important first step on a path to potentially transforming Ireland’s social and economic future. At a Digital Ireland Forum event last year, O’Sullivan presented a radical vision of how Ireland could double its population and bring in about 75,000 skilled emigrants on an annual basis who in turn could each generate six additional jobs in the local economy.

Not long after that, O’Sullivan embarked on the Open Ireland initiative to encourage Ireland to create a technology visa system that would enable talented and skilled workers from around the world to come and live in Ireland. The initiative estimated that 5,000 visas would in turn create 20,000 jobs, 15,000 visas would create 60,000 jobs and if 25,000 visas were issued it would have the potential impact of 100,000 new jobs created in the local economy.

“International research has shown that every high-tech job created leads to an additional four to five jobs elsewhere in the economy,” Ireland’s Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation Richard Bruton TD said yesterday.

IT employers: the time to act is now

O’Sullivan, who has been recognised by MIT for co-coining the term ‘cloud computing’, has called on Irish IT employers to waste no time in making the most of the new opportunities. Full information on the new IT permit rules can be accessed online.

“Ireland isn’t in a great economic situation right now, but it’s clear that the way out of our economic challenges is through growth. The new jobs plan, which is in operation effective April 10th, trades on Ireland’s strategy to be the best place to start and grow tech businesses.”

O’Sullivan said Ireland is already attracting major tech companies from all over the world to locate in the country.

“What this radical revamping of the permitting system enables is for these businesses to grow faster and create more jobs in Ireland. I applaud the Government for making changes that strengthen Ireland as a hub of technology by enabling highly experienced technical experts from all over the world to come and set up and join the businesses here.

“This measure will create jobs for local businesses immediately as the tech sector already has thousands of vacant positions,” O’Sullivan said.

O’Sullivan can empathise with the plight of IT employers seeking to find skilled workers. He is co-founder and managing director of Avego, a 55-person cloud technology firm with offices in the US, Ireland and China.

O’Sullivan is also managing director of SOSventures International, which boasted returns averaging 27pc over the past 15 years. His first company, MapInfo, grew to a US$200m public company, and popularised street mapping on computers. Among his successful investments to date are Netflix, which just announced 1m users in Ireland and the UK in just several months, and Harmonix, creator of Guitar Hero.

Disclosure: SOSventures is an investor in Silicon Republic

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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