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Has Big Tech lost its lustre for Irish engineers and IT workers?

1 day ago

New data from Universum shows that Irish workers are turning away from tech giants like Apple and Meta towards banks, professional services and public sector employers.

Big Tech firms including Intel, Meta and Apple have all fallen several places in the latest ranking of the most attractive employers in Ireland. That’s not to say that all Big Tech firms suffered similar fates when they were ranked by more than 8,800 professionals in Ireland as part of The Most Attractive Employers Index 2023. The index was compiled by employer brand company Universum, which is part of the IrishJobs and StepStone group.

Among IT workers, Meta fell from fifth place to 17th and LinkedIn dropped 13 places to 24th. TikTok achieved seventh place, while Microsoft only dropped one place from first to second position. Outlier Google rose one place to take the first position. Amazon took third place and Apple ranked fourth. While there were some big casualties this year, many other tech employers like Microsoft, Google and TikTok managed not to fall down the ranks drastically.

Semi-state and public bodies formed three of the top 10 employers among IT professionals, with the HSE rising from seventh to fifth, An Post rising from ninth to sixth and the Civil Service taking the eighth position. Professional services firms become considerably more popular for those pursuing an IT career, with Deloitte rising 10 places to 23rd position and KPMG increasing 33 places to 35th position. Banks also seem to be rising in popularity among IT workers. Bank of Ireland jumped seven places to 15th, alongside JP Morgan which rose 14 places this year.

Public sector employers particularly favoured by engineers

The picture is similar when it comes to the data for engineering workers. However, Apple fared considerably worse among this group than it did among the IT workers. While it is fourth most popular IT employer, it fell from eighth to 16th place for engineers. Intel also experienced a ranking drop, going from second place to eighth. Meta endured a particularly significant loss, slipping from 14th to 42nd.

Among engineers, the Electricity Supply Board (ESB) is the most popular employer. It moved up three positions from fourth in 2022. The Civil Service moved from 11th to fifth, meaning that the private sector’s losses are the public sector’s gain – particularly when it comes to engineering professionals.

Not a new shift

The shift in attitudes towards Big Tech employers is not exactly new either. Earlier this year, we covered Universum’s report on the most attractive employers among students. That report polled more than 8,000 students. It found that students were beginning to turn away from Big Tech firms towards smaller employers. The 2022 edition of the index identified Intel and Google as the most attractive employers for students, but while these companies are still considered desirable by graduates and students, this year’s report revealed that small to medium-sized organisations moved up in popularity by 12pc.

As for the overall 2022 edition of the Most Attractive Employers list, Universum’s data showed that although Big Tech players performed relatively well, women in IT were earning significantly less than their male colleagues. The gender pay gap was found to be the highest in the IT sector – a fairly damning statistic for a sector that prides itself on high salaries.

Gender pay gap reporting only became mandatory in Ireland for all large companies since 1 December 2022 and Universum’s report came out prior to this, so one would hope the situation is at the very least beginning to improve.

Competitive salaries remain important amid layoff worries

Commenting on the results of the 2023 index, Sam Dooley, country director of The StepStone Group Ireland, said “Given the impact of the continued rising cost of living, it is unsurprising that a competitive salary remains the most highly desired employer attribute in our research.”

But he also pointed out that “given the tight labour market, financial compensation is only the first step in attracting and retaining employees. The rise in importance of competitive benefits year-on-year shows that professionals are seeking wider and more meaningful value from employers in a talent-friendly labour market.”

Steve Ward, UK and Ireland business director, Universum, said that “Macroeconomic factors are having a clear impact on how talent views potential employers. With considerable economic uncertainty and volatility across the globe, professionals increasingly value Irish public and semi-state sector organisations that provide greater stability and resilience against these changes. Meanwhile, the significant drop in popularity of some multinationals in the technology sector is also likely a feature of this economic backdrop, exacerbated by the layoffs across the sector over the past 18 months.”

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Blathnaid O’Dea
By Blathnaid O’Dea

Blathnaid O’Dea joined Silicon Republic in 2021 as Careers reporter, coming from a background in the Humanities. She likes people, pranking, pictures of puffins – and apparently alliteration.

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