Executive Insights

Phil Codd, Managing Director, Expleo Ireland: Skills gap placing glass ceiling over Ireland’s digital economy

By Business & Finance
25 March 2022
Phil Codd Managing Director, Expleo Ireland

Expleo managing director Phil Codd outlines the findings of Expleo’s Business Transformation Index 2022 Ireland report concerning strands like recruitment, skills development, remote working and the digital transformation agenda.

We’re pleased to have recently launched Expleo’s Business Transformation Index 2022 Ireland report, which aggregates the prevailing sentiments of 111 business and IT leaders nationwide regarding business-critical strands such as recruitment, skills development, remote working and the digital transformation agenda.

Skills shortage

While the pandemic has shifted digital transformation activities into high gear for large swathes of Irish enterprises, one of the main barriers to successful implementation is the pronounced technical skills shortage. Headline findings from our research illustrate the considerable impact that skills shortages are having on the Irish business community, impeding growth plans for over half (56%) of Irish enterprises. In some instances, the warning is stark. According to 67% of respondents, the compound effect of this skills shortage is undercutting the vitality of Ireland’s digital economy. 

Survey respondents also recognised the intrinsic link between the right talent and optimised digital transformation initiatives, with 77% of survey respondents identifying talent shortages as a major barrier to digital transformation. In order, the most challenging roles to fill were IT leadership and management positions (stated by 81% of respondents); data analysts (stated by 46% of respondents); and data scientists (stated by 43% of respondents). 63% of business leaders also stated that development and DevOps roles are in critically short supply. 

Over two-thirds (67%) of respondents acknowledged they lack the internal skills and experience to manage emerging technologies such as Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning, augmented reality and virtual reality. In an effort to circumnavigate current skills shortages, many enterprises are actively outsourcing specific roles in order to quickly tap into a wider pool of on-demand talent, while leaning on external service providers with the technical knowledge, renowned industry expertise and repertoire of tools to help ignite the transformation journey.


While cost-effective in the short term, a more holistic approach could be to leverage the knowledge of experts, while also pouring resources into developing bespoke upskilling programmes internally. This is what investing in staff looks like, and can help establish a culture of Continuous Professional Development. Not only will this help strengthen brand equity with current staff, it’ll send a very positive message to prospective hires. Encouragingly, our research found that 44% of organisations plan to invest in staff training as a means of addressing their tech skills shortages head on.

Given the findings listed above, it’s no surprise that almost two-thirds (65%) of Irish enterprises are coming to terms with the fact that there has been significant underinvestment in the skills base of employees. Perhaps following a two year period of introspection, glaring inefficiencies and overly prudent cost saving measures have been thrust into sharp focus. Businesses, let’s take heed of this now and take the necessary steps to future-proof your operation.

Another thing we can deduce from the BTI findings: It’s an employee’s job market, there’s no question about it. The shifting power dynamics between staff and bosses means businesses must give genuine expression to nurturing talent, embracing the reality of flexible working and helping staff thrive from anywhere. Now is definitely the time to think outside the box in terms of strengthening recruitment efforts, and crucially for some enterprises, boosting staff retention. Moving forward, Diversity and Inclusion must be the foundational pillars of any company culture. These simply can’t be buzz words designed to provide optics of a progressive workplace. Employers, this is your opportunity to earn your D&I stripes, and show your dedicated workforce they are the lifeblood of your organisation.

Additional BTI findings:

  • 54% of businesses in Ireland have now formalised a ‘hybrid working’ approach.
  • 48% have introduced a flexible location policy – allowing employees to work from anywhere.
  • 33% of leaders stated that maintaining employee motivation and camaraderie has become more difficult due to remote working. 
  • 22% of business and IT leaders see hiring people from more diverse backgrounds as a long-term solution to skills shortages – compared to an average of 33% in other markets surveyed.

Download the full report here