Shortage driving Irish tech firms to hire staff in eastern Europe

Sigmar Recruitment planning remote working unit in Tralee, employing up to 100

Sigmar Recruitment is considering opening a new unit in Kerry to recruit web developers from countries such as Romania and Croatia to work remotely for tech companies in Ireland and further afield.

It is believed the proposed new “centre of excellence” could employ up to 100 recruitment consultants in Tralee, where Sigmar is considering making the investment. An announcement is expected later this summer.

Web developers are in high demand, especially in Dublin, the home of a multitude of US web companies as well as a growing indigenous startup sector. Wages in the Irish IT sector, however, are growing at three times the national average due to a severe shortage of staff.

Sigmar, which in February said it would expand following investment from French group Adéquat, has already developed a niche around sourcing web developers from central and eastern European countries or the IT industry.

It then seeks to place the developers, who would work from home, with tech companies in other European countries where there is a shortage.

Dedicated unit

Sigmar is proposing to develop this line of business by setting up a dedicated unit in to focus specifically on the cross-border remote working sector. The plan is to recruit for clients and other agencies from across Europe, although Ireland would be an obvious focus.

Recent research from Enterprise Ireland and financial firm Investec found that only one fifth of technology companies in Ireland see the availability of labour "to be good or very good".

The researchers said the struggle to attract talent was the main contributor to wage inflation in areas such as software.

Meanwhile, the IT sector in Ireland is likely to grow significantly in coming years, with industry linchpins such as Facebook and Google both on hiring sprees. There is a shortage of housing for staff who relocate to Ireland, however, forcing companies to consider more remote working.

It is expected that the details could be finalised within four or five weeks, and the unit could become operational by the autumn.

Adrian McGennis, group chief executive of Sigmar, said the group is excited by “our plans to develop a centre of excellence” for remote working. It is understood the Tralee idea, however, has not yet received final sign-off.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is Business Affairs Correspondent of The Irish Times. He also writes the Caveat column