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The hard truth about the Irish knowledge economy:

In a further blow to the ailing economy, Google has decided to abandon plans to locate up to 100 software engineering jobs in Ireland because it was unable to find enough qualified candidates here.

A little over-dramatized in the Evening Herald but a very serious issue. We are not turning out enough engineers and we are not attracting enough engineers from abroad.

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  1. Hey Antoin —

    my reaction: hmm.

    First off, aren’t Google required to look for qualified local candidates before they’re allowed to hire someone from outside Ireland using a working visa? So making noise about the difficulties in finding qualified local candidates could be just that — appropriate-sounding noises.

    Secondly, they’re legendary for taking an incredibly long time to make their hires. True enough, a friend of mine who’s a very competent software engineer went through something like 12 interviews over 6 months, before they gave up on the process.

    In fact, I myself applied for a job in Google a couple of months ago, with recommendations from a number of goog staffers. Two weeks passed without an ACK — I finally received an email from a recruiter asking when I could set up the initial phone screen. By that stage, I’d taken another job elsewhere — with a kid these days, I can’t afford to faff around with no income, waiting for a multi-month interview process to iterate through their HR system.

    My Google friends tell me that it works great in terms of the end result for Google, in that the people that are eventually hired are really into the idea of working there, and it probably weeds out a lot of the bad candidates effectively. But it really sucks for the candidate.

    So maybe that was the problem Google’s been having in Dublin — they don’t have quite the cachet that they have in Mountain View, so there’s less candidates who are both (a) good enough and (b) willing to trudge through the long slog without taking a job elsewhere compared to what the Valley scene allows.

  2. Well that puts my mind at rest. If it took them two weeks for them to ping Justin back then that’s just plain incompetence.

    I wrote them off two weeks after I’d recently submitted an application out of curiosity (complete with a carefully crafted cover letter no less!). Anyway, I ended up too busy meeting real people and doing real interviews to go chasing a position in a company that doesn’t have an Irish HR phone number or answer emails in person.

    This sounds like a cheap excuse to pull 100 jobs they promised the government from their website. In a month when rumors are of MS about to lay off big numbers and the future of Dell Limerick is a major concern, blaming the lack of qualified candidates is bollox imho.

  3. I concur. Also the jobs are Google are pretty low end operations jobs, god forbid you’d be working on an end user product. Lots of ahem, ‘Internal Development’ jobs, Yawn.

  4. Alas, the Herald are probably right. Most Irish computing graduates are crap, due to our apathetic university system. When graduates enter the workplace, they are hired by companies who assume they are crap before they walk in the door, and are willing to tolerate mediocrity, as long as it’s cheap.

    I’ve personally interviewed about 200 engineers in the last few years. Mostly people with shit-hot CVs, who managed to get by the Google recruiter’s with flying colours. From memory, 90% of candidates were non-Irish, though Google seemed to have hired a higher proportion of Irish engineers; perhaps easier relocation is a factor.

    I think the Evening Herald have it spot-on; Google wanted to hire ~100 more soft-eng folk in Dublin this year. They couldn’t, even though the majority of the applicants were non-Irish! Irish Engineers are pretty crap, and Ireland is just not an attractive location for high-end computing folk (wages vs. cost-of-living is rubbish). We source heavily from Eastern Europe, so visas are not usually a problem.

    It doesn’t help that most good Irish engineers get jobs through their friends, so have no interviewing experience – Google was the first real interview I’d had since I’d left college…so even really good people freak out and get declined. And as Justin said, interviewing at Google is not for the faint-hearted, and likely shrinks the available engineer pool further.

    If the government is serious about a ‘knowledge economy’, we need real tech universities. Ones that fail people if they can’t pass the course (rather than make the course easier) and ones that can afford to hire superstar lecturers/support staff who really know their stuff.


  5. My gut feeling is that this is a way of just pulling jobs due to the fact that advertising revenue is bottoming out and Google doesn’t need another 100 low end operations workers to add to their army in Dublin.

    Frankly I’m not surprised.

    I am surprised however that they would blame it on the lack of suitably qualified candidates. Rings of a company quickly disappearing up it’s own arse.

  6. Hi. The Herald line was actually a pick up from a story the previous day in the irish edition of the sunday times, which isn’t actually availabale online (ironic, that)

    Here’s the full text….

    Ireland misses out on new Google jobs
    Mark Paul
    393 words
    21 December 2008
    The Sunday Times
    (c) 2008 Times Newspapers Limited. All rights reserved

    GOOGLE has abandoned plans to locate up to 100 software engineering jobs in Ireland because it was unable to find enough qualified candidates here.

    John Herlihy, Google’s vicepresident for online sales and the head of its Dublin-based European headquarters, said the highly skilled jobs went to other Google offices in Europe. He blamed the loss of the jobs on a “dumbing down” of educational standards.

    “We wanted to recruit up to 100 software engineers, but we couldn’t find candidates of the calibre we were looking for in Ireland,” he said.

    “The jobs have been lost. We have since built different engineering teams in countries including Poland, Norway and Switzerland. We have a great team of 30 engineers here, but it could have been 100.”

    In September 2007, Nelson Mattos, Google’s head of engineering for Europe, announced it was planning to beef up its engineering presence in Europe as it moved to tailor its offerings towards local markets.

    In October, Google released its third quarter results showing that it hired about 250 engineers in the three months to the end of September.

    Ireland was expected to be one of the main beneficiaries of the recruitment drive. Google’s Dublin operation already employs about 1,500 people.

    The government, which last week launched its strategy for building a “smart economy”, has said it is targeting high-tech jobs to drive future economic growth.

    “We hear a lot about this knowledge economy of ours. But I’ve been back in Ireland for four years and I still don’t know what it is,” said Herlihy.

    “I’m not sure the quality and the output of our third level [colleges] is as good as we think it is,” he said. “There’s a huge amount of dumbing down at third level and second level.”

    Herlihy pointed to what he described as the “streams” of people who leave college with firstclass honours degrees or who achieve seven A1s in the Leaving Certificate. “Those results used to be hard to get,” he said.

    “We’re throwing massive amounts of money at third level institutes. Too much. You can’t continue to throw public money after seven universities. You have to decide whether we only need two or three, and which of those will be top.”

  7. I concur. Also the jobs are Google are pretty low end operations jobs, god forbid you’d be working on an end user product. Lots of ahem, ‘Internal Development’ jobs, Yawn.

  8. Irish Schools lucky enough to have modern computers use them an hour a week just to fill a stat sheet about IT on their website.

    I am not surprised about the “Dumbing Down” phrase and I agree with the previous posters view on the “knowledge economy” myth.

    If you put 100 kids or adults for that matter in a room…..who would be the smartest at a given time?
    The one with Broadband and google in front of them.

    Yet we are in the Third World of Broadband and High Tech Jobs are moving elsewhere.


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