Dublin gets talent: Thanks for coming… Please don’t go!

Dublin gets talent: Thanks for coming… Please don’t go!

While Dublin compares favourably with its international peers in terms of attracting talent it still faces significant underlying challenges.

This article seeks to explore some of the key factors affecting the ability of Dublin City and Region to act as a talent hub and to attract and retain the best people.

The accepted theory is that positive economic activity drives labour force gains, or in other words people will follow the jobs.

Therefore, it can be said that successful cities are those that are growing, as they are creating sufficient new employment opportunities to attract additional people to work and to live in them. Dublin (both the City and the Region) offers an interesting perspective in this regard, in terms of its ability to generate employment, particularly through FDI, but also the changing population of both areas over the last 20 years.

The table below shows the total population for Dublin (City and Region) from 1996 – 2016. Dublin City’s population has grown by 13% over this period, however, by comparison the Dublin Region has grown by 27% over the same period.

Some of the reasons for this include access to and the affordability of residential accommodation.

Dublin City is geographically constrained in terms of access to new land for development and relies on its existing stock of land.

Also, the collapse of the construction sector during the recession has had a significant impact on supply. Density is also a recurring challenge as we are still mostly focused on building houses and not apartments.

These constraints on supply have not only seen young families and workers moving out of the City seeking affordable housing (accounting for some of the increases for the Dublin Region) but also an emerging trend of increasing household sizes in the City as more people live under the same roof. As a significant proportion of jobs are based in the City, this places additional pressure on the City’s and Region’s transport infrastructure as large numbers of people commute into the City each day.


Ultimately cities are much more complex systems than black and white metrics can depict, but these numbers can be very useful in monitoring performance. To get a better understanding of the issues, cities compare their performance against their international peers and Dublin is no different in this regard.

We want to know how policy decisions, taken both at local and national levels, affect our ability to attract and retain talent. The issues surrounding talent will become more acute as our economy continues its strong recovery and we approach full employment.

One of the benchmarks used to compare our performance is the “Cities of the Future” report from FDi magazine. The 2018 rankings have Dublin City displacing Paris from 2nd spot in the table and coming second only to London. Since their foundation in 1947, the IDA has done a very successful job of selling Ireland and Dublin to international business.

The IFSC and Silicon Docks have Multi National Companies (MNCs) competing to access the additional 1m sq/ft of commercial space expected to come on stream by 2020 and the clustering effect can explain why 9 out of 10 of the largest ICT firms in the world call Dublin home. However, the greatest challenge facing Dublin may be its ability to attract and retain enough talent to fill the new positions emerging from this investment.


The Global Talent Competitiveness Index (GCTI) 2018 is another key benchmarking metric we use to understand Dublin’s performance. The Index consists of 5 core pillars and 17 sub-categories under which cities are measured on their ability to act as talent hubs. Overall the performance of Dublin is very good having finished in 7th place, up from 13th in 2017, with a score of 66.1 (Zurich finished 1st on 71.0) and a significant distance ahead of our traditional international competitors; Amsterdam ranked 11th (61.6), London 14th (59.6) and Berlin 29th (53.6).

Ultimately cities are much more complex systems than black and white metrics can depict, but these numbers can be very useful in monitoring performance.

However, when you dig into the results of the 5 pillars there are significant issues with two of them. Under “Enable”, “Attract” and “Be Global” we finish in 1st, 4th, and 10th respectively (this can be largely attributed to the number of MNCs based in Dublin, strong State support for research & development and a highly educated workforce).

What is of concern is our performance in the remaining two categories “Grow” and “Retain” where we finish well outside the top 20. One of the sub categories for “Grow” would seem to sugges that physical social networks, which allow people to find new employment opportunities, may not exist here, and that this forces talent to leave Dublin in search of career growth or promotion. Unsurprisingly, the key issues under the pillar “Retain” where Dublin scores very poorly concern the cost of living and the cost of renting accommodation.

It is clear that one of the key challenges influencing talent retention for Dublin is access to affordable accommodation and while the supply side response remains sluggish it is anticipated that the Rebuilding Ireland Programme and Local Government responses will soon begin to take hold.

There is also potential to target talent retention as a key objective under a number of local policy initiatives such as the Regional Action Plan for Jobs and the Local Economic & Community Plan.

This could assist in focusing resources for the City and Region on the attraction and retention of the talent necessary to keep Dublin as one of the best global destination to live and work.

The topics outlined in this article will be explored in more detail on the Collaboration Stage during the Ireland gets Talent panel from 2.45pm.

Assisting start-ups & business with supports and advice through the LEO Dublin City. Part of the economic development Team for Dublin City Council, supporting the Economic Development and Enterprise SPC. Manager of Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) for Dublin City, helping services, suppliers and producers connect with over 120 local markets internationally.

Sign Up to Our Newsletter

Receive the newest Monitors as they are issued, plus additional insights and updates on an montly basis.

We use Mailchimp as our marketing platform. By clicking above to subscribe, you acknowledge that your information will be transferred to Mailchimp for processing. Learn more about Mailchimp's privacy practices here.