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Dublin: Top City to Hire Software Engineers

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The Karat Team

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The tech industry in Dublin, the capital and largest city of Ireland, has come a long way since IBM became the first U.S. tech company to set up an office there in 1956. It’s now one of Europe’s leading tech hubs, and our report on the 2024 top cities to hire software engineers found that Dublin is the fifth best city for elite engineering talent in Europe. 

Since IBM’s entrance, many other tech companies have followed in their footsteps. This year, OpenAI chose to open its first EU (European Union) office in Dublin, the vehicle software company Sonatus opened a R&D (research and development) and engineering center in Dublin to expand its engineering and business capabilities, and Workday is building a new headquarter to support its growth in Europe, Middle East, and Africa. Additionally, 16 of the top 20 global tech companies and the top 3 enterprise software providers have a presence in Ireland. 

Let’s take a look at why Dublin is not just one of the best European cities to hire software engineers, but also one of the best global cities for tech talent. 

Why Dublin

  • Low tax rate: Historically, Ireland’s 12.5% corporate tax rate has been one of the lowest in the world. Although this has now been raised to 15% for companies with more than €750 million in revenue, the new tax rate is still low when compared to the United States, where the federal and state corporate tax range is between 25% and 30%
  • Young and educated workforce: Ireland has one of the EU’s youngest and fastest-growing populations. It also has one of the most educated workforces, with 63% of 25- to 34-year-olds attaining third-level education compared to the EU average of 41%. Ireland is ranked third in Europe for education quality and access, and its universities are among the best in the world. Trinity College Dublin, the country’s highest-ranked third-level institution, rose to 134th in the 2024 Times Higher Education World University Rankings, while most other Irish universities held their positions. Lastly, Ireland produces the highest number of STEM graduates per capita between the ages of 20 to 29, with 40 graduates per 1,000 people compared to the EU average of 21. 
  • Investment in innovation: Academia, companies, and government all contribute to driving innovation in Ireland. Government spending on R&D has reached record levels, as it’s estimated that the government’s R&D allocation for 2023 surpassed €1 billion. This funding supports programs like the Disruptive Technologies Innovation Fund, which “aims to drive collaboration between Ireland’s researchers and industry, and develop disruptive technologies for eventual commercial application.” Aside from government-backed initiatives, tech companies are directly partnering with universities for research and access to talent. For example, Technical University Dublin is partnering with Workday to understand and manage the societal impact of AI. Graham Abell, Vice President of Software Engineering and Site Lead at Workday, explained, “As an industry partner we can offer research laboratories and practical resources which will lead to innovation. This will translate to tangible products and services, as well as offering Workday talent pipelines.”
  • Interested new grads: Ireland’s Most Attractive Employers 2023 report found that Irish tech and engineering students continue to view tech giants like Google, Apple, and Intel as desirable places to work. There’s also an increased interest in working at small- to medium-sized companies. The percentage of students who wanted to work at a large organization fell from 61% in 2022 to 58% in 2023, while interest in small- to medium-sized organizations increased from 39% to 42%. This may be driven by the recent mass layoffs from large tech companies such as Meta and Amazon.

Hiring Challenges in Dublin

  • Skills shortage: Despite the country’s educated workforce, there’s a skills shortage that can make it challenging to find the right candidate and force companies to offer better compensation. In 2024, 25% of hiring managers say their biggest obstacle is a shortage of skilled candidates. Due to the competitive hiring landscape, 69% of employers anticipate raising salaries for tech roles that are difficult to fill. The American Chamber of Commerce Ireland (AmCham) found that 24% of survey respondents said their biggest skill gap is in digital and data and 16% said machine learning and AI. To address this shortage, many AmCham members are partnering with “educational institutions to develop new courses in emerging fields and to offer practical on-site experience to students.” For AI skills, the country is focused on upskilling and reskilling employees and introducing initiatives such as appointing an AI ambassador and creating a National Masters in AI.
  • High cost of living: While Ireland offers a low corporate tax rate, it’s becoming more expensive to do business there. The median software engineer salary in Dublin is $108,000, making it the 19th most expensive city on our list. Ireland has a housing crisis caused by the lack of public and affordable housing development, and it’s felt most acutely in Dublin. This is making it difficult for U.S. companies to operate in Ireland, as nearly all (98%) U.S. companies surveyed found it hard to secure housing for their staff in the country and 73% described it as very or extremely difficult. Startups, in particular, are feeling the effects of rising cost of business the most. A survey of 340 founders and CEOs in Ireland found that the cost of doing business is their second biggest challenge.

If you’re considering tapping into global tech talent to rapidly grow, manage costs, or expand into new markets, see our full report on the top cities to hire software engineers in 2024


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