High cost deters IT gurus from filling Luxembourg jobs
Luxembourg’s high living costs are putting off tech geeks from taking jobs in the country, with recruiters struggling to find to fill vacancies that crucial sectors of the economy such as banking and tech rely on to keep going.
The Grand Duchy pays it workers some of the highest wages in Europe, with the highest minimum wage, and an average gross annual salary of €64,930 according to Luxembourg’s statistics office Statec. But the considerable cost of living, high rents and inflated house prices are putting people off from coming to the country, posing a particular problem for the red-hot ICT sector.
“It is now astronomically expensive to live in Luxembourg,” Julian Evans, director of recruitment firm KR Recruitment said in an interview. “Everyone [job candidates] finds out what the costing of renting or living is, and you get people saying, ‘no way’, [to working in the country].”
Of all the companies that tried to recruit ICT specialists in Luxembourg, 67% reported difficulties, considerably above the EU average of 55%, according to a European Commission report released last week.
Yet Evans suggested the actual number was far higher, saying that in his experience, 95% of the roles for ICT specialists his company recruited for were hard to fill. "Everyone is searching for ICT staff,” he said.
Luxinnovation - a government-backed agency to promote innovation - says there are 231 private companies in the Grand Duchy's ICT sector.
They range from Doctena, a website that allows people to schedule doctors appointments, to Data Essential which helps companies set up ICT and Cloud systems, and Luxembourg satellite pioneer SES which uses technology and ICT systems to develop its products.
That is on top of other companies relying on ICT jobs to help manage their business, adding to demand for positions such as software and hardware engineers, and people who can assist business clients with IT problems.
House prices in Luxembourg rose by more than 17% in 2020, according to the statistics office Statec. It was the sharpest rise among EU countries, where the average prices increase was an already hefty 6.1%, Eurostat said. Figures from the past 10 years also show huge increases in land prices.
“The cost of coming to Luxembourg is a complaint of all the candidates,” Calebe Ferrari, ICT staffing and recruitment officer at System Solutions said in an interview. “It’s very difficult [to recruit for IT positions].”
Luxembourg's problems in attracting computer specialists is all the more pressing given that the country does not produce enough programmers or other IT specialists itself. “We have a huge demand [for ICT jobs, but] we don’t have enough capable people with the right qualifications,” said Ferrari.
Ferrari makes around half of his hires abroad, while Alexandre Dauge, who works in IT recruitment at FinTech company Finologee also looks outside the Grand Duchy to fill the gaps. “I hire people from all over the world, it makes it easier to find the profiles,” Dauge said.
Just 5% of Luxembourg graduates had a degree in an ICT related topic in 2018, The government is now attempting to grow a next generation of ICT and tech geeks with initiatives such as coding classes for children.
“We are all aware that this is a problem [hiring for IT positions],” Economy Minister Franz Fayot told the Luxembourg Times on the sidelines of an event with the European Commission this week. “It's a gradual process, and it's something we're working on with these kids, with these initiatives.”
“It’s a question of directing the education in a slightly different direction… getting more people into these ICT sectors,” he said. But even he admitted that the country is still not producing enough young talent in the field.
“We are not training enough people in mathematics, [and] we don’t have enough engineers,” he said. And Fayot is not the only one painting a bleak picture for the future of ICT employment, with recruiters seeming unsure about how the problem will be resolved in the short-term.
“I can’t see it improving next year,” Evans said.