What You Need to Know About Tech Talent in 2024

What You Need to Know About Tech Talent in 2024


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by Michael Lantry
IT Jobs and Recruitment Insights


Whenever you listen to anyone talking about the world we live in right now, you often hear the word ‘unpredictable’ used. Our world is described as one that is constantly changing. This really does feel true. As we kick off 2024, and in the context of the tech talent market in Ireland, what can we expect to see? What changes are coming and what trends are emerging that we need to take note of? In this blog, I will attempt to capture some of these trends and changes. 

 

So what should we expect to see becoming more prevalent in 2024, from a tech talent perspective. Well let's look at a couple of the macro factors first.

 

Global Economy

global economy

Image by macrovector on Freepik

The global economy is definitely in a state of uncertainty. This is driven by a number of conflicts going on around the world right now. What does this mean? One thing it does is cause investment decisions to stall. There is less pen being put to paper to sign off deals. When this distils down, it means less revenues into companies and therefore less confidence. 

Inflation levels are going down, which is good and will encourage confidence back into the market. But the cost of living remains high and this squeeze on people continues. If salaries are not going up then generally people could have less disposable income than in 2022 or 2023. 

 

Irish Economy

We continue to have a very low unemployment rate. It sits just below 5%. This is encouraging as a rising unemployment rate is one of the key indicators of recession. The government predicts growth in the Irish economy in 2024, and the inflation rate is coming back down. All positives. One thing perhaps to look out for is the rise in industrial relations disputes in 2024 as the cost of living squeeze really bites. 

In the tech market in Ireland we saw a lot of layoffs in 2023 and a lot of caution across the sector when it comes to hiring. Check out the insights section of our 2024 IT salary guide to read more about what we saw in 2023. We have seen a lot less in January 2024 versus the same time in 2023. However, the job flow from the tech sector is still muted. 

 

Advancements in generative AI

growing focus on AI within companies

You cannot talk about the world now and how it is evolving without discussing AI. The proliferation of AI is gathering pace. ChatGPT was the product that got everyone sitting up and listening and using these tools. 2024 will see a wave of AI products and tools enter into our lives. From a talent perspective, we will see significant advancements in the technologies we use to not only attract, but also retain staff. At GemPool, we regularly host intimate networking lunches where we would bring out, say, five or six CTO’s or CPO’s for a peer to peer lunch and learn session. Having done many of these over the last few months, one theme is the topic of AI. For example, CTO’s are asked by their Boards what the company's AI strategy is. How can the adoption of AI technologies drive productivity? Can AI build code that means the existing Engineers and be 10x productive? Does this mean they don't need so many Software Engineers (who are expensive resources) on their team? 

This idea that AI can replace the need for skills like software engineering is now very much in the minds of employers. The technology is not there yet though. But this is something we need to watch in 2024 and beyond. This is an opportunity for tech companies to reinvent the roles that might be automated, like software engineers or quality testers. It also has a wider implication on how AI will disrupt jobs in the future. 

 

Office versus remote working

Across 2023 we saw a definitive move back into the office. This was a clear trend. Employers have made it clear that fully remote working is not their preference. When we speak to employers about this, and we talk to companies every day across Ireland and Europe, they tell us that the reason for this is to enhance collaboration of teams, to create more opportunities for ideas and innovation to blossom. I have to be honest and say that I tend to agree with a lot of the logic being put forward. In GemPool we moved from one day in the office per week to two days per week from January 2024. For us, it is all about the ability for people to learn more quickly, from each other, and foster stronger relationships for deeper connection. 

It's clear that the hybrid model is currently winning ahead of fully onsite or fully remote. However, specifically as it relates to the tech talent market in Ireland, this is out of sync with what people want. A recent report from Indeed showed that there were significantly more candidate searches for fully remote work than job posts available. Applications for fully remote jobs are way higher than hybrid job posts (by a factor of five). This shows us that people still really value remote working. 

For 2024, it feels like a bedding down of the hybrid model will continue. What will be interesting is to see how employers can attract or retain staff if they tip the scales too heavily towards onsite. It's not just about how many days you are in the office, but also how you use that time together. We will watch this space to see how companies are approaching this. 

 

A swing towards a client driven market

client driven market

In recruitment, we use the term ‘candidate’ or ‘client’ driven market to describe which party has the power. Over the last few years it's been a strong candidate driven market. This means there were more jobs than candidates. So the candidates could make more demands, and be more picky. Now, after how 2023 has played out, the pendulum has swung back toward employers. My sense, and this is really just a sense, is that it met in the middle around the end of 2023. 2024 will see the employer having more power in the relationship. This will mean employers can take their time in the process, which means longer recruitment processes. They won't have to offer as much salary or benefits to attract talent, so the wage inflation we have seen will probably level off (could it even go down?).

There is one paradox that is hard to explain though. With all the high profile layoffs in 2023, and more in January 2024, across the tech sector, we still have not seen a major flow of talent into the market. This is possibly as the actual numbers, on the ground, in Ireland are smaller than the much bigger numbers we see in the media (representing global layoff %). Another explanation is that many of the layoffs were in back office functions (like Talent Acquisition, HR, Finance, Sales etc), rather than tech teams. We did also see many of the people who did get laid off getting hoovered up by pharma companies. However, while the talent shortage does continue, it is starting to change. Employers are seeing more candidates apply for roles, generally speaking. There is also a reluctance of candidates to change jobs as they favour security and stability now rather than moving far more easily in the boom market post Covid. This dynamic is constantly changing so we will keep a close eye on it. 

 

Importance of flexibility

This has been very well covered but worth another mention here. Flexibility is very high on people's expectations in the workplace. In a recent Linkedin survey of people who live in Ireland and work in tech, the number one most important thing to employees was flexible working (when and where you work). The table below shows the top 6 most important elements to an employer value proposition. 

Employer value proposition for tech talent in Ireland 2024

 

This not only refers to working from home but also in the ways that people work with opportunities to spend a few weeks overseas in the summer or work from a coffee shop etc. I expect to see this continue throughout 2024 as being a key measure for candidates in selecting a role but also in the retention of existing employees. Employers need to find creative ways to offer flexibility, and importantly, flexibility that is of value to the employees.


I hope this reflection on some of the key trends in the Irish tech market for 2024 has been useful to you. If you ever want to discuss any of these topics please reach out to me on michael.lantry@gempool.ie and you can read more insights about the IT jobs market in Ireland.

 

 

 

Cover image credit:Image by redgreystock on Freepik


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Michael Lantry Michael Lantry michael.lantry@gempool.ie
+353 87 7546331