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Ireland, a vibrant and attractive ecosystem for talent By Ian O’Hora, Head of Europe at IDA Ireland

In the last 18 months, Ireland’s economy has been very resilient, it has outperformed almost all other advanced economies. What has been instrumental to Ireland’s strength and growth throughout these challenges, is the depth and calibre of technology capability across all industry sectors.

At the heart of Ireland’s technology industry is a rich, collaborative network comprising excellent research capability, investors from well-known blue-chip enterprises and fast-growth companies from across the world, and, of course, a deep pool of talent from Ireland and right across the EU.

With technology leaders such as Ericsson, Microsoft, Apple and SAP, Ireland has established itself as a technology hub in Europe long before now. However, it’s the breadth of technology capability and talent across sectors that bolsters Ireland’s positioning: in engineering, companies like Liebherr and Siemens; Sanofi and Novartis in life sciences; Mastercard and Stripe in financial services.

In this digital economy, talent and innovation tend to ‘cluster’ near to each other, the ability to collaborate and learn from insight gained in the ecosystem is a real positive which puts Ireland on the ‘shortlist’ for technology investments by companies across all sectors. What’s more, businesses settle in Ireland with long term ambitions. Indeed, one third of multinationals in Ireland have had operations in the country for over 20 years, illustrating their success, resilience and value achieved. Recent investors including We.Trade, Zalando, AB Agri, TikTok and Wuxi have all joined and added to a technology and talent ecosystem build up over the last 35+ years.

One of the strongest factors that contributes to attracting these investments, is the quality of Ireland’s education system and of its graduates. The country has two Ministers focused on education; one Minister for the growth, development and advancement of our school-going children, and the second Minister focused on higher education, research and innovation. There’s a clear connectedness and investment in the future, education, skills and talent, for all ages, right across the country. Ranked among the top 10 most innovative EU countries in the European Innovation Scoreboard (EIS), Ireland is leading the way in knowledge diffusion and third for knowledge impact in the Global Innovation Index.

What drives this, is a positive can-do collaborative environment where the government, industry and academia work together. Policy makers and industry collaborate to continually improve and model the future needs of industry and ensure education and talent meets those needs.

Meanwhile, Universities and Institutes of Technology across the country regularly engage with industry on syllabus content, ongoing relevance and skills, and invite leaders from technology companies to lecture. Graduates leave 3rdand 4th level education with the skills that industry needs to compete on a global stage.

Education with open collaboration and dialogue really works. High demand from some of the world’s leading companies, across all sectors, with a rich and diverse talent pool make Ireland one of the most attractive locations to build, to grow and to base a business. The country has one of the highest numbers of software developers per one million inhabitants in Europe and the highest ratio of AI talent across Europe on a per capita basis, according to the European State of Tech Report 2020. The same report found that 32 percent of software developers in Ireland are women, higher than the European average.

In addition to being switched-on regarding what industry needs from education to boost students’ employability, Ireland has a young population which is an obvious attraction for tech companies building and growing business dependent on talent and experience. In fact, the country has one of the youngest populations in the EU, with one third aged under 25 and almost half under 34. Ireland also has the highest level of STEM graduates per capita in the EU and the second highest rate for female graduates in STEM.

What’s more, geographically and culturally speaking, Ireland is well-placed to connect UK, EU and US businesses, creating a rich hub of international talent, collaboration and knowledge sharing, which is greatly appealing for talented professionals from Ireland and overseas looking to excel in their careers. This ability to attract overseas talent from a large European workforce is a real advantage for business leaders wanting to expand: companies operating in Ireland have access to a labour pool of almost 250 million people from across the EU and, currently, 16.5 per cent of Ireland’s total workforce is from other EU countries.

At a time when technology is pervading everything from pharma to food to cars to services, Ireland’s track record and attractiveness to talent puts it at the heart of technology in Europe. With more than 1,500 of the world’s leading businesses and 250,000+ people working in cities right across the country – Ireland has a proven capability to grow and transform with the needs and innovation ambition of investors.

Access to top talent as well as the collaboration and dialogue – between IDA Ireland client companies, Ireland’s home-grown companies, government and academia, on strategic goals like skills, the future of work, green economy, advanced manufacturing and digitisation – is central to creating the successful tech ecosystem that encourages so many enterprises to flock to Ireland.

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2020