Ireland’s indigenous tech sector’s battle to attract much-needed skilled workers is made more complicated by the reality that in their own country few people realise how successful it is, said Enterprise Ireland’s Anne Lanigan, leader of the IT’s Happening Here campaign.
Lanigan, who will be a panelist at the Future Jobs Forum on 21 February in Dublin, explained that Enterprise Ireland’s IT’s Happening Here brand evolved out of the struggle the indigenous sector faced in finding appropriately qualified people.
“We were hearing this from a lot of companies, not just small start-ups but scaling companies that were quite substantial in size.
“We also had to recognise that this was a problem for everybody, it wasn’t just the indigenous sector, but a shortage of tech talent worldwide.”
A mechanical engineer by training, Lanigan has 27 years of experience in international business, in the private and government sectors, across a wide range of industries and stages of corporate development, with 13 of these years overseas.
In her current role, she works with a portfolio of Irish technology companies and is proactive in raising the profile of the indigenous sector.
Profile, she believes, is a critical factor impeding local tech firms from winning in the talent wars.
Winning the battle for talent
“The industry needed a brand to help raise the profile of the indigenous sector so that they could attract people.
“The first issue was this: our indigenous software sector is not well known in its own country – there is very little awareness of it,” she said.
This is despite, according to Irish Software Association research, a scaling indigenous digital technology sector that employs more than 30,000 people with total sales of €2bn per annum.
“We have a fantastic indigenous sector that nobody knows about – it was completely below the radar – nobody was talking about them, they don’t even talk about themselves.”
Lanigan said the indigenous sector is a credit to Ireland and works on superb technologies that have a global impact. It just needs to get better at telling its own story.
“They were coming from an environment where it used to be easy to get people through word of mouth. But that world has been completely turned upside down.”
The next issue, she said, is businesses in the software arena need to get better at being process-driven and planning for the future in terms of human resources, and not recruiting ad-hoc whenever a vacancy arises.
“Now they need to plan and have the people ready for projects as they come in, not running around trying to fill positions.
“The first thing we needed to was have it known that there was an industry here.”
At present, Lanigan said 60pc of job vacancies in Irish indigenous tech companies are in the area of software development.
Anne Lanigan will be a panelist at the Future Jobs Forum 2014 in the Convention Centre Dublin on 21 February