The country boasts some of the highest education rates in Europe and the city itself is home to a young, cosmopolitan and highly qualified population, willing to work for wages well below London rates. Enter JPMorgan, Facebook and Google, which are just a few of the numerous companies confirmed to be doubling down on already-significant operations in Dublin. CONTRIBUTOR Dan Chester, Managing Director – Wilburystratton.com
There are, however, some important caveats attached to the city’s charms. Dublin’s rapid expansion threatens to become unsustainable for residents and employers alike. Put simply, there is a clock on relocating to Dublin; as more companies move in, commercial rates, salaries and competition for talent will continue to rise and latecomers risk being crowded out of the market.
A Brewing Property Crisis
In 2017, Ireland was named as Europe’s fastest-growing economy for the fourth consecutive year. Nowhere is this wave of prosperity more clearly reflected than on Dublin’s skyline which is increasingly populated with cranes bearing the promise of one of the city’s most valuable and rarest commodities: office space. New commercial developments, such as the bustling Docklands area, have proven a strong draw for international companies seeking state of the art accommodation. Commercial hubs in and around the city offer ultra-modern facilities housed inside gleaming, glass-fronted high-rises that would not look out of place in London’s Canary Wharf.
However, new developments have done little to quell the increasing appetite for office space. Our conversations with Dubliners have revealed that demand is far outstripping supply. “Property developers just can’t build fast enough” as one source put it. As a result, commercial rent has sky-rocketed. Analysis by the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland revealed that the cost of renting prime office units in Dublin stands at €638 per sq m p/a and will rise by five percent this year. The last year saw a record-take up of office space, with over 325,000 sq m brought into use.
Dublin’s burgeoning office property crisis reflects a wider sense that the city is starting to “burst at the seams”. Residents as well as employers are struggling to keep up with soaring rents, which have hit an average of €1,869 p/m for residential properties.
Various growth predictions suggest that this trend is yet to peak and that commercial and residential rates will continue to rise as long as London’s apparent exodus across the Irish sea continues. All of this creates a sense of urgency around Dublin relocation projects as companies looking to set up or expand in the area will face increasingly intense competition for office space.
Too Many Headhunters
One of Dublin’s strongest attractions is undoubtedly its nearly two million-strong population. Ireland as a whole has the youngest population in the EU: 65 percent of Dublin’s population is aged between 15 – 64. The city is also exceptionally highly educated: 30.5 percent of people are working age graduates. Dublin hosts an array of different nationalities, providing plenty of multilingual talent. With this high-quality talent pool, though, comes more competition for talent. Ireland added as many as 80,000 jobs to its economy last year, with Dublin seeing the greatest boost in employment in the country. Sourcing talent for roles is consequently becoming tougher for Dublin employers, especially for those that delay their relocation.
Our conversations with Dublin professionals have shown that they are starting to experience ‘headhunt fatigue’ from the sheer volume of calls they receive from companies setting up in the city. This sentiment resonates across all sectors, but is most keenly felt by tech and FS specialists who have seen a dramatic surge in Dublin-based roles. From a recruitment perspective, Dublin is a buyer’s market and companies are having to do more to distinguish themselves from the crowd. Some creative incentives have been put in place, such as Facebook’s offer of accommodation to relocated staff and Google’s free staff meals. More often though, companies are finding that they simply have to pay higher salaries to attract talent.
Discussions with Dubliners gave us reasons to be hopeful that the upwards trajectory of salaries has not yet reached a critical level; rates of pay still compare very favourably with London salaries and few of those we spoke to saw salary as a top priority. But this state of affairs is clearly time-sensitive. Companies considering a move to the city should capitalise on Dublin’s outstanding talent pool while it remains affordable.
Moving Talent in and around Dublin
It is not just Dublin’s immediate population that attracts companies to the city. Employers have found that Ireland’s capital has a certain magnetism, pulling in talent from all over the country with its unrivalled reputation as a hub of opportunity. Dublin companies can expect to have priority access to graduates from Ireland’s seven public universities and fourteen institutes of technology. It is also easily commutable for professionals based in other key cities like Limerick and Galway.
However, there are signs some professionals are beginning to tire of what they see as an increasingly over-crowded city. Despite recent undertakings to improve public transport and road infrastructure, certain areas of Dublin remain stubbornly gridlocked during rush hour. Traffic is especially problematic around the periphery of the city, where many popular business parks are located. As one commuter commented, Dublin is approaching a “saturation point” as it struggles to support its expanding population of workers and businesses. Companies moving to the area would be well-advised to set up before this situation worsens and Dublin loses its appeal for out-of-town workers.
There are plenty of reasons why Dublin is emerging as a destination of choice for companies looking to shake off Brexit-fuelled insecurity. A highly-skilled population, a booming economy and an impressive offering of commercial space are just a few the factors pulling employers towards Ireland’s vibrant capital city. But if you spot a trend, as they say, you’re probably too late. Any firm looking to cash in on Dublin’s undoubted attractions, needs to do so quickly .