“What we now find is that a lot of developers abroad prefer to stay local and stay at home. What is your company offering me that I cannot get here where I live? Where is the incentive for me to want to make the move? So it does come down to what these companies can offer to attract. Since the pandemic, many skilled developers have reconsidered what’s most important to them, and that may mean staying home instead of expanding horizons in other countries.”
Tony Papadopoulos is the owner of the Staff Matters Recruitment Agency
Over the years, Papadopoulos has seen an increase in sophistication among clients that are recruiting developers. “StaffMatters has been in operation since 2005, just over 15 years. When we started, recruitment was a relatively new service in Cyprus. It took some time for the market to mature in using and benefiting from the services that a recruitment specialist offers. “In the past five to six years, we have see the ICT sector become a predominant sector in terms of hiring needs. I think many companies had been quite slow to react to the demand, possibly because they felt that the talent pool was big enough to draw on locally. But in reality, it is not always that easy to find what they are looking for in this market.
“Add to that a tough, competitive market for developer talent globally, as well as a substantial increase in tech companies on the island. No longer are we working with five or ten international tech companies hiring, we are now working with 25 to 30.”
But Cyprus companies are beginning to adapt to these competitive conditions.
“This challenge goes back to 2015. Since then, many companies are creating new financial and non-financial perks. And they have started looking abroad for talent. But that in itself brings with it a new set of challenges.”
Given that a programmer with a cutting- edge skill can go and work anywhere in the world, and can demand a high salary and a slew of perks, are Cyprus companies competing?
“You hit the nail on the head with that, because that is the response we have been getting from candidates. We have been setting up these networks for about the last two and a half years. The landscape was different two and a half years ago. You then found candidates that were more open to traveling, that perhaps saw Cyprus as a possible option away from home for a couple of years.
“What we find now, however, is that many developers abroad prefer to stay home, asking of an employer what is your company offering me that I cannot get here where I live? Where is the incentive for me to want to make a move? So it does come down to what these companies can offer to attract. Since the pandemic, many skilled developers have reconsidered what is most important to them, and that may mean staying home instead of expanding horizons into other countries.
“We are working hard with our clients to compete, and thanks to the climate, tax incentives and social advantages – the ability to find good schools for children, the large group of developers already living on the island – we can make a competitive offer to developers.”
Papadopoulos finds that Cyprus companies are reaching a point where their offers compete with those in the rest of Europe. “Employers are learning to adapt to the demands of individual developers, offering more flexibility and the professional growth they require. Companies are prepared to pay a good salary, to provide a comprehensive relocation package, plus an ex-pat package once they are in Cyprus in terms of accommodation, living allowance, and other perks.”
And the government has taken steps to facilitate bringing talent from abroad, he notes. “Immigration and work-permit structures are in place that enable companies to bring in third-country nationals to legally live and work in Cyprus. In addition, the government recently expanded the criteria for a company to be able to hire third-country nationals, by adding numerous specialized ICT skills that are now eligible for such a hire”.
“What is needed here is a critical mass of skilled developers”, he continues. “Yes, it is about achieving a critical mass, just as Cyprus once did with the forex industry, for example. Years ago there was no forex industry in Cyprus. And we first brought talent in to build it up, and then the local workforce received training once companies became established. Now there is a large pool of talent in Cyprus for the forex industry to draw on.
“What we need is a holistic approach to meet the demands in the ICT sector, such as incentives from the government and universities to attract students to go into ICT studies, and incentives for companies to hire graduates and offer internships.”