US tech firms have “hit the pause button” on any plans to hire staff here, according to a leading recruitment expert.
Tracy Keevans, of recruitment firm Morgan McKinley, said that since Donald Trump’s inauguration as US president, her company had identified a reticence among US technology companies to invest in Ireland.
“A lot of the US tech companies that were thinking about expanding into Ireland have hit the pause button on their plans as a direct result of uncertainty related to President Trump,” she said.
She was speaking after the publication of the regular Morgan McKinley Monthly Employment Monitor which tracks trends in the jobs market month by month.
While US companies are becoming more nervous, the report found that a large numbrs of job enquiries are now coming from the UK as a result of Brexit.
There was also a rise in the number of Irish people abroad working in the financial services sector who are contemplating returning home to Ireland, having left the country during the financial crisis.
Asian financial institutions in particular are showing more interest in Ireland, thought to be a sign of contingency planning for Britain’s exit from the EU, it said.
President Trump has repeatedly pledged to bring US companies home and has raised the spectre of punitive tariffs for companies operating offshore that do not provide employment or pay tax in the US.
The view was supported by a senior Irish official, who confirmed that the uncertainty was having an effect.
“In times of regulatory and political uncertainty like this, companies will tend to put off decision-making in the short term,” they said.
Ms Keevans said there has been a notable reluctance among technology firms that are scoping out Ireland as a possible base of operations to commit to firmer plans.
The companies involved cited uncertainty surrounding what – if any – measures Mr Trump might impose on US companies that hold intellectual property overseas, or hire outside America.
Ireland has become a major hub for US tech firms in recent years. Dublin is host to nine of the world’s top 10 IT firms, with the industry thought to contribute around €36bn to the Irish economy annually.
Ms Keevans stressed that her information related to prospective investment into Ireland, not companies already established here.
However, the growing reticence of US companies will undoubtedly cause unease to Irish policy makers charged with facing off myriad threats to the economy in 2017 and beyond.
Ms Keevans was speaking about the Morgan McKinley monthly report that showed there was a 10pc decline in the number of professional jobs available in the first month of this year compared with January 2016.
A total of 11,850 professional roles were available in January compared to 13,173 a year previously, according to the Morgan McKinley report.
However, the report also showed that the number of professional job vacancies in Ireland rose by a third last month compared to December’s figure.
In addition, the number of active professionals in the jobs market also increased by 56pc compared to December.
Half of all professional positions that became available in January were outside Dublin, bucking the trend from January 2016, when opportunities were concentrated in the capital.
The latest data shows increased demand for private equity and real estate experts. Demand for IT professionals was especially strong last month. The survey is based on new job vacancies and new candidates registered with Morgan McKinley’s network in Cork, Dublin, Kilkenny, Limerick and Waterford.
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