It’s a truism that Ireland’s knowledge economy suffers from a scarcity of knowledge. For hiring managers this usually means a shortage of knowledge workers  like software engineers, product managers, project managers and other high value professionals.

The expectations from new hires in the tech sector are very high: successful candidates in many open roles need to have at least 6 to 7 years live coding or project experience.

Quality talent like this was always going to be scarce but with  the whole of Silicon Valley setting up shop in Ireland the shortage  has become all the more acute.

In a 2013 business survey by Irish Management Institute & Danske Bank, 57% of respondents reported that skills shortages created difficulties for business growth. The particular skills in short supply were engineering, combined language/technical skills, IT skills, science and quality expertise.

In the short term one solution is to look for talent abroad. For hiring managers and foreign software engineers there are a few things to keep in mind.

Entering Ireland for Foreign IT Workers

IT professionals from the EU can come to work in Ireland without a visa. Ireland lifted the travel restrictions on Bulgarian and Romanian workers before 2014. This freedom of movement extends to workers from the European Economic Area (EEA) and Switzerland.

Residents from these areas applying for jobs in Ireland enjoy the same employment rights as Irish citizens  as do their spouses or civil partners.

Immigrant workers from outside the EU/EEA need an employment permit. Fortunately for IT hiring managers open roles in the tech sector are included in the Government’s Highly Skilled Occupations list. This means that applicants for the ICT roles listed can receive Highly Skilled Job Interview Authorisation. This will allow foreign candidates for open roles to come to Ireland for an interview and allow them to stay for a maximum of 90 days.

It is worth remembering that hiring foreign workers can involve relocation costs for the hiring company.


Silicon Dock, Dublin. Photo Attribution:

Language Skills for Foreign Software Engineers 

Despite constitutional claims to the contrary English is the first language in Ireland. Irish won’t even get you past the check-out in Tescos, although English might not get you past the check-out in Tesco either. But in the live IT environment, in the office or online English is the universal language of the ICT industry. Naturally, hiring managers and foreign engineers want to make sure their English skills are strong enough for the corporate world.

Whatever English skills assessments are included in the hiring process, it’s critical for hiring managers  to remember that foreign hires will be expected to compose English language e-mails about complex technical, work-flow and organizational issues. Additionally, they’ll at some point have to write and give presentations to colleagues or senior management pitching ideas that might require budget approval. And if an engineer or IT professional is in contact with Anglophone customers their English quite simply has to be flawless.

Irish Business Culture

Irish workers have a reputation for being good at working with foreign colleagues. The IMI and Danske Bank Multinational Companies survey found that respondents believe this is an asset in Irish industry as the quote below indicates.

“Irish people’s ability to navigate most cultures – in that Irish people can work with Asian people as easily as people in the US.  They also have a can do attitude and usually deliver on their commitments.”

Survey of MNCs in Ireland
Results of the Annual Competitiveness Survey 201

This highlights a crucial factor in Irish business culture that foreign workers need to be aware of. Irish companies have become heavily influenced by American enterprise culture. Usually there won’t be a be rigid corporate structure because there’s a huge amount of trust placed in employees that they will meet target in the agreed time-frame. In the IT sector workers are expected to show initiative and solve problems, they are given a lot of leeway in doing this but they have to demonstrate that they are doing it.

Ireland is an attractive destination for tech workers. There are plenty of open roles and project work is cutting edge. Rates are very competitive compared with most foreign economies. But for anyone coming to work in Ireland it’s a big move involving risks that need to be evaluated. Likewise, for hiring managers they need to be sure that a successful candidate will function just as well as any successful member of the team and when hiring from a foreign talent pool there are plenty of factors that need to be considered.

Verify Recruitment specialises in sourcing high quality IT professionals. We currently have many open roles in these very areas of technology. You can view our current opportunities here.