The director of Technology Ireland has said recent lay-offs by technology companies shows that the sector is somewhat in a state of flux.
Speaking on RTÉ’s Morning Ireland, Una Fitzpatrick said while negotiations are still going on with some companies, the expectation is that around 2,000 to 3,000 people who work in technology in Ireland will be laid off.
She cautioned that it is likely that more lay-offs will come.
More job losses in the tech sector were announced yesterday with news that jobs website Indeed is to cut 15% of its global workforce resulting in around 2,200 layoffs. It is not yet known how many of its 1,400 Irish-based employees will be impacted.
On Tuesday Irish-founded tech firm Workhuman announced a 10% cut to its global workforce sparking fears for Irish-based jobs. The company employs 600 people in Dublin.
On Monday, Amazon announced plans to cut another 9,000 jobs from its global workforce on top of 18,000 layoffs announced in January.
Last week, Facebook parent Meta said it would cut an additional 10,000 jobs globally.
Last month Google announced 240 redundancies in its Irish operation and 12,000 globally. This week it emerged that the Irish redundancies will be compulsory.
Other tech giants including Microsoft, Salesforce and Alphabet have slashed thousands of jobs in recent months after pandemic-led hiring sprees left them overstaffed.
Central Statistics Office figures from the second quarter of 2022 showed that 165,000 people were working in the ICT sector.
That was an increase of 50,000 people within the sector since 2018, and 30% of that growth happened in the two core pandemic years as a whole, Ms Fitzpatrick said.
“It is a sector that has grown significantly, and it has been an incredibly stable sector for an excess of 10 years” but she said, it was anticipated that a downturn was forthcoming.
“That has been exacerbated by some kind of global economic factors that are now impacting both the wider indigenous and FDI tech sector. And the sector is really responding to what’s happening at a global level,” she explained.
“I suppose from an Irish perspective, we have to make sure that our overall enterprise policy is agile enough to reflect this,” she added.
She added that in relation to the headline figures of very large global percentages of lay-offs, Ireland has done well to try to keep those numbers on the lower side.
” I think there’s a mix of factors why that is – definitely the talent based here it is very strong and we know that companies are really trying to hold on to their top tier tech,” she said.
“Because there is a recognition the sector will bounce back, we are going to need those advanced skills,” she added.
She said that while it is a very concerning time to lose jobs, the sector is trying to hold on to as much talent as possible and to continue to upskill and reskill people to be prepared for the jobs of the future, for future career growth.
According to Una Fitzpatrick, there is still huge demand across the wider economy. There is also huge demand for tech talent across the other sectors such as medtech, pharma and financial services.
“From an Ireland Inc perspective it is important that we retain as much of that talent in country as possible, because this is highly mobile global tech talent that can go anywhere and work from anywhere,” she stated.
Ms Fitzpatrick said that the contraction of the tech sector has been seen before.
“There may be a difficult up to 24 months ahead and that’s based on global economic factors around rising interest rates, valuation risk and lower appetite for risk generally in the funding scene,” she explained.
But she said that there have been big enhancements recently in technology, adding that “there is going to be a huge need for expansion around our capabilities and our talent pipeline in those skills of the future”.
“Making sure we’re best placed to be on the crest of the wave in hopefully a year or two years’ time will be really important to the future growth and scale of the sector here,” she added.