Recruiter warns Ireland’s housing crisis is hurting SMEs

Multinational firms can offer new staff help with accommodation but Irish SMEs cannot

A manager at one of Ireland’s biggest recruitment firms has said some Irish SMEs are struggling to compete due to multinationals offering staff accommodation packages.

As Ireland’s housing crisis continues into 2019, supply of appropriate properties for workers continues to be a point of concern for many businesses.

Multinational companies such as Facebook and PWC have taken to offering new recruits accommodation packages, in some cases rent-free.

Libby Kelly, a director in CPL recruitment, said the firm cannot sugar-coat the accommodation issue when approaching candidates with job offers from Dublin.


“The tech boom is definitely as big as everyone says it is, therefore it’s a candidate market, there’s a huge demand for good tech candidates,” she said.

"We have all the big employers here, Google, Facebook, Salesforce, huge technology firms

“The cost of living and the lack of accommodation is a factor for international candidates.

“Companies want international candidates, they want diversity in their workforce, but the cost of living is a big factor so employers are becoming more and more creative with relocation packages.”

She added: “The scarcity of accommodation and the price in Dublin means they have to offer some kind of help in that area.

“The average rent in Dublin, 40 minutes from the city, you’re talking €1,400 a month, and the city centre, the sky is the limit, so when you’re trying to bring leaders to your company, when discussing rent it can be a challenge.

“There is no point painting a false picture because they’ll be here a month or two and they’ll realise and it’s not the right thing to do.

“There is so much to offer here but we always advise people to do their research.”

In Dublin in November, the number of people in rental accommodation was roughly 50 per cent larger than 10 years ago.

The average rent in Dublin city centre has gone up 105 per cent since 2012.

In November, for the 25th consecutive quarter, rents continued to rise, a new record high for rents had been set and the year-on-year rate of inflation is above 10 per cent.

The average rent in south county Dublin, the country’s most expensive rental area, was €2,156 .

“That in turn puts the SMEs under pressure who are up against these giants, offering accommodation and large relocation packages, they have very deep pockets,” Ms Kelly said.

“SMEs can sometimes be more flexible than bigger firms, meaning they can offer things like remote working, this is how smaller companies can compete.

“We’ve seen some clients reaching out to employees to take in a lodger and receive tax breaks for doing it.”

Due to the housing crisis, there has been an uptake in large companies looking at cities like Galway, Cork and Limerick to set up an Irish base in a more cost-effective city.

Neil McDonnell, chief executive of the Irish SME Association, said concerns about housing are only part of a wider issue.

“We have had concerns raised not by medium/mid-cap companies (50-250 staff) that they are unable to either attract talent at the rates offered by foreign multinationals or indeed retain existing talent for the same reason,” he said.

“The ‘trickle-down’ effect of talent does not work for these companies, as they feel they are training talent for export to the larger employers. - PA