“We set up offices in Krakow, Poland in 2006 because we couldn’t compete with the big companies and struggled with availability of talent outside of Dublin. Open Ireland is needed now or a lot more Irish Tech start-ups will be relocating or hiring abroad and outsourcing directly.”
Gráinne Barry, Anotherfriend.com
“Open Ireland’s mission is of huge importance. So much effort is invested in attracting the most reputable and successful companies to Ireland, it is critical that we make available the human resources that these companies need to establish and expand their Irish operations. These companies are of vital importance not only for the direct employment they create, but also across the wider economy through secondary employment and by encouraging indigenous technology businesses to start and grow.”
John Beckett, Eirtight Technology
“We will shortly be hiring technical staff to work on DiaryMonitor. Rather worringly however is that the word on the street is that there is a lack of good available talent out there and not enough tech workers to fill the jobs. I think Ireland needs to make sure that there’s always a good supply of tech workers for both the international tech/bio industries setting up here and for native companies in Ireland.”
Michael Skelly, DiaryMonitor
“Entrepreneur Sean O’Sullivan has suggested that we target technology graduates from the world’s top 250 universities and give them an automatic entitlement to work in Ireland. It’s a good idea and one that could be expanded to include the introduction of a new hi-tech visa to make it easier for skilled workers to come to Ireland.” Irish Independent, 19 July 2012.
Danny McCoy, Director General, IBEC
“The emerald tint may have waned on the world stage but we still hold the beautiful attraction. Now there is real opportunity to invest in Ireland’s future by reaching out to others who want to help. No doubt those who would fill our skills gap will find work elsewhere; they must live. However, here they can live and work to both our and their full potential.
That potential translates to more jobs which will be created from the presence of more talented and skilled workers from around the world. By allowing those with the necessary knowledge and skills the Technology Visa can provide real sustainability, continuing to build on our IT excellence and further promote Ireland as a place to live work and grow.”
David Cody, HiberniaEvros Technology Group
“In a business like ours, getting access to the very best talent in the world without restriction is the only way we can upskill our team to make our formats compete with the top formats in the world of television, we can then build IP and export more and rely less on importing formats from around the globe.”
Larry Bass, CEO, Screentime ShinAwiL
“The continuing and accelerating technological revolution is oblivious to the entrapment of the financial services’ crisis. It is evident that in terms of real ‘wealth’ we have never had the potential to be so advantaged, the mismanagement of the monetary valuation of that wealth can and should be separated as much as possible to avoid losing Ireland’s position at the forefront of these technological advances; Open Ireland’s tech visa (and what is represents) is the best current approach for that separation.”
Martin O’Dea, Managing Director of al
“The Tech Visa is a cracking idea. It would help to strengthen Ireland’s position as a) a great place to base technology multinationals in Europe b) a great place to come to work if you’re in technology and c) a top destination for up-and-coming new tech sensations (Evernote, Rovio, etc.) It’s a no-brainer. We should do it.”
Sean O’Sullivan, MyLocalSocial.com
“Ireland has attracted an enviable cluster of multinational technology companies in some of the fastest growth areas (e.g. cloud, gaming, mobile apps, digital content and social media). It is now imperative that we are able to offer the necessary skillsets to keep this ball rolling. Expanding the knowledge-based economy is critical to Ireland’s future and we must ensure that our initial success does not run out of steam, due to a shortage of personnel possessing the requisite qualifications.”
Barry Rhodes, CEO, INEX – Ireland’s Internet Exchange
“Ireland has made great strides, through the 1990′s and 2000′s in development of companies that are indigenous innovators and that are producing products and solutions that contribute significantly to the Irish export growth. This export growth has fortunately been incremental to the growth of Irish multinational exports, because both are vitally important. The indigenous and multinational growth is fuelled by top class engineering, science and product development skills (both technical and management). Ireland can’t sustain this growth need from its indigenous population…Ireland simply has too small a population to support this growth.
It is imperative that the Irish economy and Irish companies are able to supplement the availability of talent through the ability to attract skills and talent via immigration. The easier the immigration process, the easier it is for companies to source their needs…and Open Ireland is all about improving the flow of talent into Ireland, and into the companies that so badly need those skills and talent.
I worked in Silicon Valley for a decade, designing Apple Macintosh computers, and the valley is a unique area in the US where immigrants from all over the world congregate, to participate in explosive growth and vitality of innovation. If Ireland can replicate a fraction of the environment that exists in Silicon Valley, and attract the talent that’s so necessary for growth, we will stand a chance of developing this country into the size and critical mass so necessary to get Ireland out from underneath the recent crisis that’s so constraining! Talent and hard work are the two main ingredients to innovation growth….so let’s ensure we don’t choke off one of those main ingredients, and starve ourselves of this lucrative potential!”
Jim Blair, Director of Research and Development, Avego
“Tweekaboo (http://www.tweekaboo.com) is a start-up with users in over 100 countries looking to find the right talent quickly. We’re experiencing difficulties as there is an acute shortage of Engineers with the skills that we need. Any recruitment agency will tell you that there is a skills shortage. We need to speed up the process of getting the right talent working here in Ireland. We’re building a global business with Tweekaboo, so any worker we employ will ultimately accelerate Ireland’s recovery and the Tech Visa proposal is one initiative that would make finding the right talent easier.”
Eugene Murphy, Founder and CEO, Tweekaboo
“If we brought 10,000 extra tech professionals into Ireland it would result in at least an additional €1,000,000,000 being spent in the local economy and generate tens of thousands of spin off jobs. It’s a game changer.”
John Dennehy, CEO, Zartis
“With the shortfall of 5,000 high tech skills people today the colleges will not fill the gap and the worry is we will lose our competitiveness and price ourself out of the international software export markets. We will also price ourselves out of the FDI market as it is too expensive to hire here and the visas can’t be got quickly enough to bring high tech skills into Ireland. Ireland’s tech sector needs to attract the best of talent and become a hub for top tech talent.”
Michael Kelly, FINEOS
“On a daily basis I work with companies like Microsoft, Amazon, Ericsson and more and I can tell you for a fact that our education system is not keeping up with the industry requirements. And I don’t mean this as a criticism of the universities either. The tech sector moves at a much more rapid pace. New technologies are developed and adopted quickly and although most companies will retrain highly skilled developers we regularly find that there are literally not enough local developers to meet our clients’ needs. I would also like to add that this is not a cost cutting exercise. Companies are not bypassing local talent to bring in cheaper alternatives from outside Europe.
The reality is that most companies would rather hire someone locally as the time-frame to hire someone from outside the EU is around 6+ weeks after offer, so this is not taking into account the time required to find and interview people first. In my opinion if it were possible to bring in the right staff for specific projects at short notice, regardless of their location, I believe it would actually be a generator of additional jobs because companies would see Ireland as a location where a project can be planned and completed with greater precision and certainty.”
Enda Rochford, Senior IT Consultant, Gempool
“Ireland has benefited enormously as an open economy and an easy place to do business. Making it easier for highly skilled people from abroad to work in Ireland will benefit us even further. It will create diversity and innovation which will support the IDA in selling Ireland as the Innovation Island. There will not be sufficient Irish graduates to fill the vacant roles in the ICT sectors for many years to come so we have to make it easier for the people with the required skills to come to work in Ireland.”
Michael Martin, Irish Software Innovation Network
“The current work visa requirements are in my opinion unnecessarily restrictive. I have spent 8 years studying and living in Ireland, have helped to start up a games studio, and yet find myself wondering if I will be eligible to stay when my graduate visa expires. I am committed to growing the Irish economy, but many in my position are unsure if they can even remain in the country. The Tech Visa is a must for the Irish economy. I have heard too many stories of Irish people leaving Ireland for other opportunities, and Irish companies not being able to hire the required personnel. In more than one case, the hiring of a non-national would have kept the company afloat or position open for the Irish person that was forced to leave the country. This cannot be allowed to continue. There is obviously a dearth of experience in the tech industry, which we cannot ignore while waiting for those still in education to someday fill. Tech jobs create other jobs. It is a very simple equation.”
Basil Lim, bitSmith Games
“My job as a lecturer sometimes involves visiting our students on placement in companies in Ireland, and also on occasion helping agencies like the IDA or Údarás to attract international companies who are considering locating near to the top research expertise that is here in Ireland. With the continued growth in the technology sector, the ICT skills shortage has become more noticeable – our electronics and IT graduates are in very high demand, and sometimes these companies have to look abroad for the skills required.
There’s a need for easier visa practices to help these companies bring the requisite skills to Ireland – but established companies are one part of an ecosystem that also require startups and entrepreneurs to be created, ensuring a flow of knowledge and innovative people between its constituent parts. Studies from Kauffman have shown how foreign-born entrepreneurs have been responsible for over half of all startups in the Silicon Valley region. With our drive towards technology innovation in Ireland, we should encourage visas for foreign-born entrepreneurs and provide a fertile environment for a startup culture here.”
John Breslin, Lecturer in Electrical & Electronic Engineering, NUI Galway
“Our ability to attract and facilitate the transfer of key technology and language skills to Ireland is crucial to securing sustained FDI and a vital indigenous start-up community. We welcome the government’s initiatives on conversion courses and as a member of the HEA ICT Skills Taskforce, I’m delighted by this progress. However, the gap for a blend of tech industry skills and experience and languages remains. As more and more countries compete for human capital, I am supportive of an improved visa programme that targets critical skills that will fuel growth, ensure wider job creation and secure the future of indigenous technology businesses and FDI.”
Joan Mulvihill, Chief Executive Officer, Irish Internet Association
“The proposed technology visa is so important. It would be a specific visa for people working in the technology sector, with certain criteria that would allow people come in to work in these new Irish companies or to fill vacancies in indigenous companies. This is significant. Often, when people talk about the technology sector and technology jobs, they say it is specific and only applies to a certain category of people. However, it is the knock-on jobs created from those technology jobs being here that are significant.”
Eoghan Murphy, TD
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“When I began my own emigration to Ireland in 2004 my work visa process was blocked by bureaucratic insistence that the job profile in question was not unique, and could therefore be done by an EEA national… therefore no reason to issue a work visa. That highly unique job requirement, and any economic growth it may have led to, were therefore destroyed. This led me to take an entirely different path, at a time when the only official alternative was the elusive Business Permission visa requiring a huge bank balance (about 1/3 million Euro). The Open Ireland proposal promises something more energetic: to recognise and recruit for unique skill sets so sums of money comparable to this “barrier of entry” would actually be moving through multiple parts of the economy: the increased IT-related business plus the fourfold expansion suggested by PWC.
Also, a specific reason: cloud-based IT services such as those offered by Google and Amazon are often referred to overseas integrators, meaning that much development of new online business is being paid for by money flowing out of the country. More options for Irish companies to recruit for IT specialities would allow small, rapidly growing Irish businesses to take over that integration effort and keep the skills, infrastructure, and financial resources local to Ireland.”
Robert Phair, Director, Computers of South Dublin
“In the long-term, we want to fill these vacancies with Irish graduates, and that’s why a series of tech-focussed courses and graduate transfer programmes have been introduced in our third level colleges over the last few years. But in the meantime, we need to ensure we are not missing out on investment opportunities. I intend to ask Minister Bruton to consider introducing a technology visa in the short-term until we are able to fill those positions ourselves.”
Senator Fidelma Healy Eames, Galway West
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“The first step in solving a problem is recognizing there is one: About twenty years ago I had the good fortune of bringing a US software firm to Ireland. The reason was similar to what’s happening here now; coders were scarce. So we grew them; but the college output back then still lacked coding, numeracy and communication skills. We solved that with our own in-house training and it gives me
great pleasure to see they are IT leaders today. Unpopular though it may be to say, that coding and numeracy problem remains twenty years on. Openireland’s initiative to grow our talent pool by making it easier for experts from any geography to add to our national IQ makes a whole pile of sense.”
Christopher Byrne, CEO, Newsletter.ie
“I love the vision of Ireland as the Silicon Valley of Europe acting as a connector between China and the English-speaking world. The great position we’ve already created in attracting generations of leading technology firms validates our proposition: that we have the opportunity, character and skills to create such a hub. Of course, to deliver this vision, we need great people and we should deal with anything (visa legislation, education systems etc) that gets in the way of that.”
Bill McCarthy, CEO, Mapflow
“With over 13 years in the recruitment industry that included the dot.com era, I am seeing real challenges in sourcing suitably qualified IT skills for our clients. This is not only an issue for our customers, but for the economy as a whole in the short, medium and long-term. There is huge pressure on us all, the government, the education system and the recruiters within this country to source and produce talent that can fill the ever-increasing requirements by the global IT companies based in Ireland, otherwise they will go elsewhere.
However, doing this ourselves is going to take time and the needs of the global tech companies are immediate. There is a real need for an initiative such as Open Ireland and the government needs to listen. If we cannot make it easy for these skills to come into Ireland, it is inevitable that the jobs and the companies supplying them will go elsewhere in the world and we’ll have earned a reputation of where ‘not’ to come if you have an IT lead business.
We need to be proactive and we need to do it now.
Great work Open Ireland”
Maureen Lynch, Director, Hays Recruitment
Open Ireland is a fantastic initiative with the power to create real change at a time when it is really needed. It will also lay the foundation for a strong economy in the future based on ICT excellence.
Peadar Gormley, Managing Director, MyPlace Media
“As an Irish born technology leader working in Silicon Valley, I can attest to the fact that diversity makes the technology industry stronger. If Ireland is to become a powerhouse in technology and get the benefits of the vibrant economy that flows from that, we will need to embrace diversity and welcome in the world’s brightest minds.
I personally hope one day to return to Ireland to continue my career, and that kind of Ireland would be very attractive to me.
Open Ireland is an initiative that the government and Irish technology companies should embrace and give their full support to. In doing so they might just turn Ireland into the new silicon valley of Europe.”
James Donelan, Chief Technology Officer, Sociable Labs
Professor Louis Brennan, Trinity College Dublin
“There is an urgent need for visa/immigration reform and there are three specific actions we can take:
1. We should reform the current visa offering to make it strongly technology-skills based. If a person’s skills are on our list of in-demand skills, they will be able to move to Ireland with their family and work here.
2. If a person has an in-demand skill visa, they will be fast-tracked through all visa processes (renewal, etc.) and not have to endure long delays.
3. The mandate of Enterprise Ireland and IDA should be modified to include an active marketing and recruitment campaign through their offices overseas, positioning Ireland as a fantastic place to build a career and raise a family, subject to having the relevant skills. We need to be actively competing for these talented people.”
Brian Caulfield, Partner, DFJ Esprit
“Open Ireland is a fantastic concept and one that I hope can help me grow my business. I have two extremely well qualified reporting and Work Force Management Executives sitting in India as they have been denied Visas. This is having a serious impact on my business as Ireland is struggling for this kind of talent and in order to get the Country back on track we need to attract the very best.”
Michael Hull, Director of Operations, Zevas Communications Ltd
“Never before has it been more important to allow in the bricklayers and high tech construction workers of the Digital world. Grant them access to live in our open economy and work with them to create the World’s smartest digital community. One that can provide for its growing population and give it comfort for years to come”.
Billy Huggard, Publisher Irish Computer Magazine, Mediateam
“Ireland has a unique opportunity to create sustainable jobs and prosperity in a socially inclusive manner. It needs to attract high levels of international ICT talent and build on the country’s many advantages (strong education system, skilled workforce, open economy, internationally recognised business environment) to deliver fully on its potential. The implementation of the Open Ireland initiative has the potential to make Ireland the preferred location globally in which to conduct ICT business. The time to act is now as our speed of response will be key to our international competitiveness.”
Michael Loftus, Head of Faculty of Engineering & Science, Cork Institute of Technology
“As a significant employer of ICT staff within Bord Gais and as President of the Cork Chamber of Commerce I am concerned at the lack of skilled and experienced ICT resources available in our market today. This is leading to a form of cannibalism of talent and inflation of salaries which will render Ireland in a difficult and uncompetitive space for technology. We must open our borders to welcome this key resource to fuel our recovery”
John Mullins, CEO Bord Gais and President Cork Chamber of Commerce
“Open beats closed – Ireland’s success has always been based on an open economy – Open Ireland is the next logical step in this journey.”
Martin Kelly, IBM Venture Capital Group – Partner
“Here in Carrig Solutions we employ 9 full-time and three part-time staff – of the 9 full-time staff, one is from Latvia, one from Lithuania and one from Iran. So one-third of our workforce is from outside Ireland.
We have the work, we just need the people – and it’s not all high-end skills we need either.
I strongly support the Open Ireland idea and am happy to add my voice to the campaign”.
Joe Brophy, Managing Director, Carrig Solutions
“The 1990’s saw Ireland create a significant indigenous software industry that became the envy of our European neighbours. We were the birthplace of the world’s text messaging revolution and innovators in areas such as online banking, travel reservation systems, animation, network management and distributed network services infrastructure. This was seeded by engineers and computer science graduates who had left the country in the previous decade to work abroad with world leading engineering and software organisations and complemented by the pool of skilled graduates coming from our third level institutions. This created an ecosystem within the country which fuelled innovative start-ups and attracted significant multinational technology businesses to the country drawn by experienced talent.
This ecosystem still exists but is being starved by a scarcity of new talent. We now lack the ability to achieve the critical mass required to make a more global impact. Ironically, based on the physical and technology infrastructure investments over the last two decades, Ireland is in a much stronger position to build global technology businesses than it was two decades ago.
The Open Ireland initiative is the first positive step that I have seen that seeks to redress this. By attracting key talents to the country and leveraging our infrastructure, we can create the environment needed to make Ireland the home of many more large, world-leading technology businesses”.
Joe Cunningham, Chairman, Ammeon
Brian Mulligan, Programme Manager, Centre for Online Learning, Institute of Technology Sligo
“Open Ireland will help us regain our confidence and energy and to start building again - Attract the brightest and best - Create great Irish tech companies – Give all of our Children the choice to have a great life here”
John Wall, Founder GxP Systems
As an IT Service provider our single biggest challenge is acquiring the proper skill set to scale our business in a very competitive European market. By allowing access to a highly skilled IT workforce Ireland will be positioned to become the predominant tech hub in the European market place. This will result in significant spin off to other industry verticals.
Ronan Murphy, CEO Smarttech.ie
“I was an employee of the ICT sector for over 6 years, most recently for McAfee in Citygate, Cork. Since moving into the world of recruitment with Hays, I’ve specialised in recruiting IT staff in Munster & Connaught, from multinationals to SME’s. The greatest challenge I face is finding suitable candidates for our clients, particularly in the area of Software Development.
The ICT sector is booming, with jobs being created daily – this is just the medicine we need in a country with an unemployment rate last reported at 14.3%. However, there is a serious skills shortage to fill those positions. Java Developers and Automation Engineers for example are very difficult to find with the clearance to work in Ireland. However, there are many skilled IT professionals from outside the EU willing to move here but cannot due to visa restrictions. This is very frustrating! The ICT sector can be a major factor in Ireland’s recovery – for each job created and filled another becomes available. Ireland needs to open her doors to skilled staff from across the world to help feed this pattern. Because the more jobs we fill, the more we create.”
Patricia O’Connor, HAYS recruiting experts worldwide (www.hays.com)
“Ireland is home to the EMEA headquarters of all the main global ICT multinationals and a European hub for data centres. This gives us the unique foundations to be a worldclass leader in the ICT space if we can recruit the necessary technical talent. We also have the added benefits of being a number one tourist destination adding a lifestyle benefit to attracting overseas talent. The Open Ireland initiative will lead the way to our future prosperity if we can open the doors to the necessary inputs for economic success.”
Neil Leyden, Founder, International Digital Services Centre
“NDRC’s is a proponent of all things open; our model of working is based on the ‘open innovation’ paradigm; last year we hosted Ireland’s first 18 Hour Open Data challenge; and we’ve already begun attracting tech talent through NDRC’s LaunchPad accelerator for start-ups (which is drawing start-ups from Europe and beyond). And we’re right at the coal face of the problem of not enough tech talent. We would be able to do so much more in NDRC if we had a ready flow of great tech talent to work on our projects and new ventures.”
Amy Neale, NDRC (National Digital Research Centre – www.ndrc.ie)
“Firecomms was the first Irish technology company to be acquired by a Chinese Corporation. One of the most complex and frustrating parts of the transaction was getting visas for a team from China to spend time in Ireland to complete the process. For more Chinese Investment in Ireland we have to make it easier for them to come here. When I ran a business in Silicon Valley over half of our team came from outside the US; from China, Taiwan, India and all over Europe. That’s how we sustained our growth and got the best talent. An “Open Ireland” is critical for this country’s future.”
Declan O’Mahoney, CEO of Firecomms 2002-2011
Denis Collins, Chairman it@cork European Tech Cluster
On 23rd March 2012, Sean O’Sullivan gave a speech entitled “Re-inventing Ireland: Making Ireland the Silicon Valley of Europe” at Silicon Republic’s Digital Ireland Forum. At that event and since that time a huge number of individuals, associations, corporations and government bodies have come together to try to create a movement to support the radical advancements and transformation implied by that speech.
To be fair, a lot of this thinking was already in the air, although perhaps not crystalized into the specific actions and a long term vision emphasized here. On the other hand, some people, even Ministers of the government, expressed amazement and disbelief at the difficulties our strong tech sector is having in recruiting workers to fill our vibrant tech sector.
Preceding events have happened that show the support for ideas like those of Open Ireland:
- Ireland’s IDA has achieved remarkable success over the past 30 years in developing the tech sector in Ireland, attracting the majority of the world’s leading high-tech and pharma companies to Ireland, including Intel, Microsoft, Google, Facebook, Linked-In, Dell, EMC, Apple, and hundreds of other major employers.
- The Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, on 24 March 2012 embarked on a trade mission to China with 90 Irish companies, just 5 weeks after an historic visit by Chinese Vice-President Xi Jinping meant to kickstart tighter bilateral relations,
- A €1.4 billion China-EU trading hub was granted planning permission in December 2011 in Athlone, Ireland.
So, Ireland has a strong foothold from which to start the Open Ireland initiative.
The development of the membership and steering committee for Open Ireland has lent further credence and urgency to the tasks envisaged by Open Ireland.
Although, as of this writing Open Ireland is less than a month old, already it has garnered indications of support from the following:
INEX – Internet Neutral Exchage Association
it@Cork (Chairman Denis Collins) – representing 300 technology companies in Southwest Ireland
Cloud Valley – representing the cloud computing region of Cork
IDSC (International Digital Services Center)
Irish Internet Association
Irish Software Innovation Network, Irish Software Association – Michael Martin
Asia Trade Forum
Trend Micro EMEA
Small & Medium Enterprise
Sea Fibre Networks
Telecity Group (Dublin)
Zartis (John Dennehy CEO)
Trackalyse.com (Charlie Ardagh, CEO)
LifeTimeValue, Keith Bohanna
Digital Reach Group Limited (Colm Grealy CEO)
Imagine Communications Group (Sean Bolger, Chairman)
Razor Communications (Frank Hannigan CEO)
Vayu.ie, Joe DiGiovanni
Bryan S Ryan
NUI Galway & DERI (Digital Enterprise Research Institute) – Dr. John Breslin
UCC & 4C (Cork Constraint Computing Center) – Dr. Barry O’Sullivan
DCU – President Brian MacCraith
DCU – CNGL
DCU Business School – Dr. Theo Lynn, Director of Industry Engagement, DCU Business School & PI/Business Research Tehme Leader, Irish Centre for Cloud Computing and Commerce
Newstalk (Bobby Kerr)
Dublin City Council
Dublin Business Innovation Center
Halo Business Angel Partnership
Notable Key Individuals
Barry Flanagan, Founder of Ireland On-Line, first consumer ISP in Ireland
Sean O’Sullivan, inventor of street mapping and co-coiner of “Cloud Computing”
Bill Liao & James Whelton, co-creators of CoderDojo
Please, join your voice in support for OpenIreland by clicking on the “Show your Support” button on these pages, or by entering your own comments below. We’d like to add your voice to the chorus.
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