Weekly Word on the Street: Tech Hiring in the Emerald Isle

by Jim Staats | Feb 24, 2012

Takeaway of the week is that timing is everything so it can’t be a coincidence that a report shows tech firms ramping up in Ireland with St. Patrick’s Day right around the corner. Talk about a pot ‘o gold for job candidates in recently hard-luck Emerald Isle? But with good, must come bad and that shows up in one not-so-good bit o’ news for tech workers in the face of the automation wave. But, back to the good news: it remains all four-leaf clovers for data scientists and healthcare IT candidates.

Lucky Charms? Tech Firms Snap Up Irish Office Space
Tech heavyweights, including Google, Facebook and Paypal, have been gobbling up bigger chunks of office space - and local workers - in and around Dublin, Ireland, with more growth to come.

The crippling financial crisis that wreaked havoc on the Emerald Isle in 2010 has driven down rents and labor costs which, in turn, has generated significant interest among U.S. firms that isn’t expected to cease anytime soon, a recent study shows.

U.S. companies were behind nearly 40 percent of offices bought or leased in Dublin last year, according to a recent article by a Bloomberg staffer.

The article notes that the Irish government has been promoting the country’s affordability and links to the U.S. in the hopes of creating an additional 100,000 jobs by 2016 and slash an unemployment rate of 14.2 percent.

Google is seeking additional office space in Dublin in addition to the 210,000-square-foot Montevetro building the firm purchased last year. Facebook has plans to double the size of its European headquarters in Dublin and Paypal has announced plans to hire 1,000 people to work in a building near the Irish capital. The tech giant, which has 2,200 employees at its Dublin site, expects to employ more than 3,000 in the country, based on the company’s filing with the country.

“Dublin is a much more cost-competitive destination than it may have been before,” said Robert O’Shea, a partner at a local legal firm that offers advice for U.S. firms seeking to set up camp in Ireland.

“That is reflected in the pipeline of projects we would see for 2012 and 2013,” O’Shea said.

Other tech firms with eyes toward growth in the land include Yelp, Salesforce.com and LinkedIn.

Shocker: Automation Technology Bad for IT Jobs
Depending on who you (the IT professional, yes, you) listen to or what you read these days, the latest and greatest advances in automation technology will be either a boon by freeing up workers to take on new tasks or an agent of job genocide.

No matter how many executives try to gloss up the innovative job opportunities of this technology, automation should make techies nervous for their long-term security, says a recent IT Pro article.

Topics from the recent HP global partner conference included the introduction of ProLiant Gen8 Servers with additions such as GPS that seeks out a troubled data center server and smart socket technology that are likely to come with a human cost, the article posits.

Firms that employ IT admins focused on manual process can easily be replaced by one-off payments to technology organizations that save said firms loads of cash simply by letting that employee go.

As more companies veer toward the automation route, IT professionals would be wise to make sure to update their skill sets and do what they can to make themselves indispensable to their current department. Don’t be misled, the article notes, by glowing words of future innovation by their executives.

The Data Scientist Rises
The role of the data scientist is becoming ever more valuable as big data technology rests on the verge of maturity, so says one IBM VP.

Anjul Bhambhri, IBM’s vice president for big data and streams following stints at Sybase and Informix, said people today have a much better understanding of the possibilities of unstructured data and the ability to seamlessly integrate this is becoming ever more valuable, in a recent interview with ReadWriteWeb.

“In terms of observing and discovering and analysing, yes, a lot of us have come to some agreement that you need a role like a data scientist,” Bhambhri said.

In discussing the expected education for college graduates targeting this role, Bhambhri said “It’s going to be very critical that the tooling we build actually helps people with the educational background that they might have in mathematics or statistics, computer science, modeling, analytics.”

In the article, she said it could be fully expected that, much like a graphic artist or mathematician bending to the tools at hand, there will be a field for big data analysis where whatever the tool that does emerge will become the essential skill.

Bhambhri estimated that folks with degrees in business or marketing, rather than mathematics or computer science, will be targeted for the data scientist role.

“Because,” she said, “if we are talking about observing and discovering, they are subject matter experts. They see a pattern, they will identify it.”

Heavy Debate on Health IT Hire Qualifications
The surging ramp-up by health providers to bring in qualified health IT professionals has stirred up a new debate. Namely, what is the proper background necessary for these in-demand candidates?

The question posed by a recent InformationWeek article is whether it’s easier to teach an IT generalist the clinical principles needed to work in a hospital or practice, or teach a clinician the general IT principles?

In response to federal mandates that health organizations better utilize electronic opportunities at hand, it’s no secret that IT professionals are in high demand for IT roles at hospitals and medical practices around the U.S. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that jobs in health information will rise by 18 percent by 2016.

But should the people that fill those roles have a clinical background?

Responses are mixed.

Workers in the health industry need to have a built-in understanding of that industry to function properly, notes Juliet Daniel, MD, senior director of medical informatics for Community Health Systems.

“Healthcare and clinical workflow are just so important, and if you’re an IT person and don’t understand it, it’s hard for you to be influential,” she said.

At St. Joseph’s Health System in Southern California, an informal “week in the life of a clinician” offering helps indoctrinate IT generalists with no medical background with a better understanding of patient care.

As the company’s VP for its Innovation Institute, Larry Stofko notes, technology managers are likely expected to be shifted among various departments and, therefore, should be able to function no matter the background.

Executives seem to agree that job candidates with drive, smarts and a true interest in the healthcare industry can accomplish just about anything.

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