Careers 2018: CareerWise growth a barometer for Ireland’s thriving economy

DEMAND is soaring for skilled, experienced people in life science, pharma, medical devices, IT, data analytics, cloud computing, as well as accountancy and across financial services, writes Joe Dermody.

CareerWise Recruitment has seen a rise in demand in the 15-20% range across these sectors. To further add to the picture of a resurgent Irish economy, CareerWise itself has grown by around 10% annually for each of the past three years.

The company this year added Mayo to its list of existing offices in Cork, Shannon, Galway and Dublin. Primarily a regional agency, CareerWise is hugely optimistic about the year ahead.

“I believe we will see similar levels of growth next year,” said Ken Murphy, director, CareerWise. “We are seeing a lot of optimism among our clients. We have a very strong client base with multinationals, where we have seen a significant level of investment and expansion, both among our Munster clients and those on those in Galway and Mayo.”

People will be aware of the recent and ongoing expansions at Janssen, Mylan, Eli Lily, Alexion and West Pharma. MSD are developing new vaccines. The med devices sector is booming, with companies like Stryker, Depuy and Boston Scientific in constant recruitment mode.

Norwegian dairy firm Tine and Dairygold are working together to produce Jarlsberg cheese at a new plant on a greenfield site at Mogeely in East Cork. IT skills such as Java developers are hugely sought after. Pramerica is enjoying huge growth in Donegal, while Dairymaster in Causeway, Co Kerry, has grown into a global leader in its advanced agri-tech field.

Meanwhile, on the west coast, growth and expansion are near constant for Baxter, Vention Medical and KCI Manufacturing. As a result, while servicing this demand, CareerWise is also thriving.

“Our own head count is up 20%, which is linked to dealing with 21% more active jobs relative to this time last year,” said Ken Murphy. “Ireland has been at full employment in certain technical roles and engineering services for the past three years, which is giving people the confidence to move jobs.

“We also need more people to come back to Ireland. We’re seeing big shortages of experienced civil, structural and mechanical engineers. People with experience in areas like validation, automation and commissioning are like gold dust. The same for people in electronics, power test engineers. In fact, there’s demand across the board for engineers.”

Ken’s own background is in electrical engineering. He worked in the US before returning to Ireland in 1989 to work with companies such as Apple Computer, Cabletron, FMC Automotive, Moog, General Semiconductor and Technicolor. He is a specialist in quality management, purchasing, logistics and supply chain management.

He and his CareerWise colleagues are casting a global net to find the right people to fill key vacancies. While praising Irish authorities for the efficiencies of Ireland’s work visa system, he’d like to see greater urgency in improving the personal tax environment for critical skills, those roles which are crucial to bringing in and sustaining large volumes of high quality roles, along similar lines to tax schemes in Belgium and The Netherlands.

“We need to make Ireland more attractive to these critical hires in key research and development and executive roles,” he said. “We need to be more creative in how we look at personal taxes for these key roles. The Dutch five-year tax model for critical senior managers is working well for these key people.

“These highly skilled people won’t move here unless we make it more attractive for them. After five years, they’ll then either choose to stay or at least pass on their skills before they move on. We’re talking with some clients who want to hire these highly skilled people, and others who want to move some highly skilled roles to here from Silicon Valley.

“When you attract these people, they tend to bring entire departments with them, not just themselves. The reality is that these people have to be coaxed to come here. The first thing they do is look at our personal tax environment, but they say that coming here just doesn’t make sense to them. Very often they decide to go somewhere else where they pay less tax. We need to be more creative and think outside the box for these critical hires.”

Mr Murphy would also like to see some movement on long overdue road networks like the M20 (Cork-Limerick), M28 (Ringaskiddy) and planned further development of the Dunkettle interchange.

Some big international companies are watching these infrastructural developments, which have a significant impact on the decisions they make in terms of expanding and relocating their activities.

“If you build it they will come,” said Ken Murphy. “The commitment of national and local authorities to building the necessary infrastructure is very important to business decisions. That’s partly what brought me back from the USA to work with Apple at the end of the 1980s.”

In terms of challenges for the Irish economy, Ken Murphy cites Brexit impacts and likely changes to the US corporation tax environment. However, in terms of recruitment, the positives far outweigh the negatives.

“I don’t see the developments coming from Brexit and the US taxes causing huge waves for employment in Ireland,” he said. “In fact, I don’t see any huge negative clouds on the immediate horizon. The real challenge we’re facing right now is finding people with the right skills.

“There is big demand for people in accountancy, for people with data analytics and cloud computing skills. There’s huge demand across all categories of engineering, in life sciences, bio sciences and medical devices. These are the areas in which we specialise, so they’re the areas I’m most familiar with.

“We’re seeing a 15-19% increase in the rates being paid to contractors, which is making it more attractive in terms of bringing highly skilled people into the country. We are seeing that companies are more willing to go the extra mile for the right people.

“Salaries for key technical roles are already higher here than in most of the UK, bar London. Employers here are thinking more creatively in terms of recruitment. Most are willing to pay toward the relocation costs for key roles. We are being more creative in our global searches; our clients are also more creative in how they are thinking about recruitment.”

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