Making Ireland more attractive for talented overseas workers

Research shows Ireland in 20th place among 55 nations in terms of desirability as a work location

Foreign workers see Dublin as a young, vibrant and fun place to live.  Photograph : Matt Kavanagh

Foreign workers see Dublin as a young, vibrant and fun place to live. Photograph : Matt Kavanagh


Irish people love hearing how great they are.

Barely a week goes by without the publication of a new piece of research highlighting the country’s success on the global stage and it’s always lapped up.

In the past month alone, studies have shown that Ireland ranks among the top four EU member states for competitiveness, is 14th globally for connectivity and is 13th out of 55 countries in terms of its reputation.

Hell, even dirty old Dublin was recently rated as the 24th most romantic city in the world (yes, really).

Not every study gives Ireland such a shining recommendation, however.

A new as-yet unpublished report, commissioned by the international jobs listing website Indeed, ranks Ireland 20th among 55 countries in terms of its desirability as a work location.

According to the research, the largest numbers of people searching for jobs in Ireland from abroad come from the UK, the US, India, Canada and France.

For jobseekers looking at relocating here, the most popular sectors in which jobs are sought include pharmacy, marketing and quantity surveying.

As Indeed’s managing director for Ireland, Gerard Murnaghan, told The Irish Times: “Ireland being ranked mid-range is disheartening if you’re a proud Irish person.”

This is particularly true when we consider the work of IDA Ireland and others in promoting Ireland as a place to live and work, and when we learn that as many as 9.1 per cent of global jobseekers are reported to be prepared to switch country for a new position.

Overall, the Indeed Hiring Lab’s Cross-Border Labour Mobility report seems to show that despite a lot of effort, we still have a lot to do if we want to attract and retain top talent in an increasingly competitive international labour market.

Does all of this matter? With a high unemployment rate, we’re not in dire need of workers from elsewhere right now. In fact, the Indeed research shows emigration is still in the minds of Irish people, with the country ranked 13th in terms of Indeed’s “Movers Index”, which shows the percentage of jobseekers in each country looking for a new position overseas.

But with the economy getting back on track and business experts advising of the need to attract top talent from abroad to help encourage entrepreneurship, it seems as though we may need to focus on how to make Ireland a more attractive destination for international workers.

According to Murnaghan, there’s plenty we can do, including taking a leaf out of Spain’s book and giving newly arriving professionals a lower PAYE rate for their first few years here. He’s also keen to see increased educational opportunities being offered to foreign nationals working here to encourage them to stay longer.


As Tara Sinclair, associate professor of economics and international affairs at the George Washington University and chief economist at Indeed notes: “Financial considerations are obviously important when it comes to people making actual moves rather than just contemplating it, but when people are exploring their career options and thinking about making a cross-border move, they are going to explore what other attractions there are,” she said.

“One thing that struck me when looking at the data on the EU, for example, is that we know Germany is a big attractor of actual job moves, but in terms of attraction, other countries are far more desirable as locations to settle in. This was very notable and suggests that if these other countries were willing to do more to employ these jobseekers, then they would likely prefer to go there rather than to Germany.”

Moreover, as Ms Sinclair acknowledges, Ireland mid-table ranking isn’t necessarily as bad as it might initially seem.

“If you add up the population of the 55 countries covered in the study, Ireland is just 0.1 per cent of the whole group, so to rank 20th isn’t so bad. In addition, it’s worth pointing out that this is a period of improvement for Ireland – it was actually responsible for 0.3 per cent of all job postings over the study’s period (April 2013 to May 2014). This means that the country ranked 13th in terms of postings per 1,000 of the population,” she said.

It also seems that Ireland may become increasingly desirable as a work location.

“I would expect the level of external competition for jobs in Ireland to increase over the next year, as the recent signs of Ireland accelerating economic recovery help to differentiate the country from the economic weakness in continental Europe. The jobs market, particularly for high-end technology roles, is truly global, and that means Irish people can benefit from the opportunities overseas, but also must compete against the world to win jobs at home,” said Sinclair.

The IDA, which is tasked with attracting investment to Ireland, admits that improvements can be made to help attract talent to the country, including the provision of better office space.

However, it said the feedback from client companies suggests they and their employees are more than happy to be here.

“In our experience, employees of major multinationals find Ireland to be a very welcoming place to come and live in. Also increasingly it is a very multicultural location to work in, where complex teams are assembled across a range of disciplines,” said IDA chief executive Martin Shanahan.

“Ireland has also built up internationally recognised clusters in IT, pharma and financial services, so employees get to work alongside their peers and often move between companies in the same sector, giving Ireland quite a dynamic labour market for those with ambition and drive.”

‘Positive experiences’

It can attract top talent no matter where it is based, but said that being in Ireland has played a role in encouraging people to join the company.

“The primary consideration for Google in locating in Ireland is our ability to find people with the skills and talents we need to be able to build a strong business. Ireland has been a great location for Google and we’ve had largely positive experiences since we set up here in 2003,” said Helen Tynan, director of people operations, Google Ireland.

“For candidates we understand that the main reasons for choosing to work here are because of the location of Ireland, the fact it is English-speaking and has EU membership, and because Dublin is regarded as a young vibrant and fun place to live,” she added.

This is certainly the case for Uladzimir Hrapelman (37), manager of product quality operations at Google.

He moved to Ireland from Belarus in 2000 and joined the company five years later. While it was partly the Celtic Tiger that drew him here, Hrapelman said Irish people won his heart with their “love and respect for family and community, their innate decency, self-deprecating humour and humility”.

“Of course the Ireland of today is quite different from what it was 14 years ago. But I am very excited and look forward to the future for everyone here in Ireland, because the entrepreneurial spirit is well and truly alive here, and coupled with passion and determination to succeed, we will be back on our feet in no time,” he said.

Next Thursday, between 6pm and 8pm, Indeed will hold a recruitment open evening at its Dublin offices. For more information see Indeed index: Location desirability COUNTRY RANKING United States 1 India 2 United Kingdom 3 Canada 4 Japan 5 France 6 South Africa 7 Brazil 8 Italy 9 Germany 10 United Arab Emirates 11 Australia 12 Switzerland 13 Netherlands 14 Mexico 15 Spain 16 Qatar 17 Belgium 18 Poland 19 Ireland 20 Colombia 21 Russia Federation 22 Argentina 23 Singapore 24 Peru 25 New Zealand 26 Austria 27 Venezuela 28 Portugal 29 Philippines 30 Chile 31 Hong Kong 32 Romania 33 Republic of Korea 34 Malaysia 35 Turkey 36 China 37 Oman 38 Kuwait 39 Pakistan 40 Finland 41 Norway 42 Sweden 43 Saudi Arabia 44 Hungary 45 Luxembourg 46 Bahrain 47 Greece 48 Indonesia 49 Denmark 50 Czech Republic 51 Taiwan 52 Israel 53

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