Big tech cuts fail to free up IT talent as firms struggle to hire

Expleo survey highlights wage pressures and impact of skills shortages on operations

Job cuts at large, international tech companies based in Ireland have not yet improved the IT talent pool from which other businesses draw, with a large majority of organisations still reporting widespread issues with hiring.

Published on Thursday, a new survey by tech consultancy Expleo indicates that businesses are increasingly looking at automation as a way of dealing with skills shortages.

Of the 141 business leaders on the island of Ireland polled by Expleo, some 94 per cent said they were struggling to find IT staff, with almost three-quarters (74 per cent) saying they believed Ireland was failing to attract top talent from abroad.

Some commentators had noted that job cuts at top tech companies such as Apple, Google, Amazon and Meta here would free up talent for indigenous businesses, which have long complained of skills shortages and a dearth of qualified candidates for tech roles. Enterprise Ireland told an Oireachtas committee in November that “an unfortunate byproduct” of the cuts might be a deepening of the talent pool for other business.


But this has not, so far, materialised, respondents to Expleo’s survey said. “Despite some very high-profile lay-off announcements in recent months, businesses are continuing to struggle to find and retain the IT talent that will be pivotal to their – and the economy’s – future,” said Paul O’Malley, chief operating officer at Expleo Ireland.

Some 71 per cent of respondents said that these shortages are impacting their operations and planning for the future, with one in five saying they are having a “significant” impact.

A large proportion of companies said they were also tackling the problem by outsourcing functions to third parties, with others (42 per cent) increasing investment to train up staff externally. Almost three-quarters said automation would be part of their firm’s solution, “as there simply won’t be enough skilled people to get the necessary work done”, Expleo said.

The large number of current job openings, particularly at senior levels, is seen by businesses as a major contributing factor. Business leaders said the biggest challenge when it comes to attracting and retaining IT talent is their ability to meet employee expectations regarding work-life balance (42 per cent), competitive promotion and career advancement opportunities (36 per cent) and expectations around flexible and remote working arrangements (35 per cent).

More than 80 per cent said they were also under pressure to meet rising salaries, with more than a third indicating that candidates are receiving offers that are at least 20 per cent higher elsewhere.

Meanwhile, 86 per cent of respondents admitted that they had underinvested in the skills base of their employees.

“With such an overwhelming majority of business leaders admitting that their company has underinvested in the skills base of their employees,” Mr O’Malley said, “now is the time” for businesses to invest in their employee skills base and wellbeing.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times