Tech/Life Ireland, a new national initiative to brand Ireland as a top destination to pursue a career in technology was launched today by the Minister for Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation, Mary Mitchell O'Connor. Tech/Life Ireland is funded by the Department of Jobs, Enterprise and Innovation and will be delivered in partnership with Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland and the tech industry to help attract up to 3,000 top tech professionals to Ireland each year. It aims to make Ireland a more attractive location for professionals in the technology sector which is engaged in what many call a war for talent as employers struggle to recruit key staff amid fierce competition for certain skill sets.
Julie Sinnamon, the chief executive of Enterprise Ireland, said the agency has contingency plans in place for Irish companies after last week's vote in the UK to leave the European Union. The planned measures include information and guidance, market diversification supports, international sector "clustering" strategy and UK in-market supports.
Ms Sinnamon said that information is key for businesses as many companies now find themselves in uncharted territory and they need information to point them in the right direction for sources of expertise in terms of financial foreign exchange. Information will also be needed on a regional basis to help people with their sourcing plans and supply chains in order to better ameliorate the risks from Brexit. She also said that a key focus for Irish exporting companies is diversifying to other markets. Enterprise Ireland has been doing that for some time and exports to the UK have fallen from 45% to 37% over a ten year period. But the UK is still the biggest market for Irish exports and in some sectors it is particularly high, she added.
Enterprise Ireland also plan to increase the number of trade missions to other regions, especially the euro zone and the high growth markets of Brazil, Russia, China and India. The Enterprise Ireland chief said that the agency will also concentrate on the cluster effect, where companies in the likes of the construction, financial services, software and innovation sectors, work together to move into other markets.
Within the UK market, Ms Sinnamon said the agency has a team working with companies on the ground to help them in the changed Brexit environment. The Enterprise Ireland CEO said that some Irish company's preparedness had been quite mixed for the Brexit result. She said that volatility in exchange rates is not new, adding that we have had volatility since 2008 when sterling and the euro were near parity. Many Irish companies decided to derisk over the last number of years and are in a good position - relatively speaking, she added.
Anatoly Lebedev, founder of Cesanta, said that he came here from Russia about 10 years ago to take up a job with Google. Mr Lebedev said that the Tech/Life Ireland initiative is about grabbing an opportunity in the tech field when the conditions are good enough. He said it now the time for small and medium sized businesses to bring the tech talent into the country, following the lead of the multinationals. He said the hiring market for the tech sector is very competitive and there is quite a limited pool for technology talent. This has resulted in companies looking overseas for their needs.