By James Conroy.

Last week saw a cohort of Cork’s recruitment community meet at the Imperial Hotel on the South Mall to discuss the future of recruitment in Ireland. A diverse range of topics was discussed during the event including; virtual interviews, capitalising on Brexit, cyber security and the key features of ID authentication.

The NRF-partnered event was chaired by Conor Healy, Chief Executive of the Cork Chamber, who began by welcoming the newly established Irish-North American flight routes enabled by Norwegian Airline Company WOW air whose services commenced over the weekend. Healy stated that although direct access to Boston Providence from Cork is a welcome addition for those residing in the south of Ireland, the real success of the venture will be determined by ‘inbound’ traffic – both in tourism and business.

Healy praised Cork’s record of attracting successful multinational companies to the County as well as the commitment of those companies toward further expansion and job creation. These included; MSD, Eli Lilly, Voxpro, Abtran, Apple, and GE Healthcare.

The recently renovated Capitol retail and office development complex was also highlighted, prompting reference to occupants Alienvault as well as soon-to-be residents Facebook, virtual reality powerhouse Oculus, and telecommunication giants Huawei.

Furthermore, Healy revealed that 5 of the last 6 investments made by the Industrial Development Authority (IDA) in Cork were city centre based – a trend that may very well be sustained with over a million square feet of office space in the pipeline for the city over the next 18 months. The proposed €1bn transformation of the Cork Docklands and Tivoli has even seen permission granted for a 33 floor tower on Cork’s marina.

Next up was speaker Geraldine King, Chief Executive of the National Recruitment Federation (NRF), who began with an exploration of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) set to come into force on the 25th May, 2018. She explained how the GDPR will replace the existing data protection framework under the EU Data Protection Directive and urged members to help guide this transition through collaboration and communication. King went on to highlight the NRF’s ‘Recruitment Practice Certificate’ – the only dedicated course of its type in Ireland – taking time to thank contributors and course attendee’s for backing and supporting the development of standards and codes of practice for the industry.

On the more technical front, NRF Treasurer Ed Heffernan advised recruiters to focus on optimising their web-applications due to the increasing number of people who use their mobile device to search jobs boards. As for the future of recruitment, Heffernan believes the profession will become increasingly specialised and urged people to prepare for the integration of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) which will inevitably ‘disrupt our day job’. He stressed that this should be embraced with positivity as it will give recruiters an opportunity to engage with clients more, not less – as simpler tasks become streamlined and automated. Virtual and Augmented Reality was also discussed with Heffernan stating ‘we’re not far off’ having to interview people in these new ways.

Next to speak was Robert Byrne of the IDA who are responsible for foreign direct investment in Ireland. Byrne highlighted the work being done by Google Brain – a deep learning AI research project – and how he believes its model will be replicated across all companies and countries. He also complemented Cork as having one of the densest cybersecurity ecosystems in Europe and how companies like Cylance located on Cork’s South Mall will play an important role in the fight against cyber-attacks such as the recent Petya ransomware outbreak that effected pharmaceutical companies likes MSD who have operations in Cork, Carlow, Tipperary and Dublin.

Joeseph Walsh, Sales Director at Abtran – Irelands largest data processor – closed the event with a thorough discussion around technology as a security tool, IBM’s Watson, and the importance of leveraging Lean learning principles to achieve process improvement.

Walsh noted that Abtran is working to improve reporting and insights by leveraging the power of AI and investing in a cognitive learning platform. He believes Abtran’s ‘MyLearning’ and ‘MyInsights’ services will be prime examples of ‘technology enabling rich insights and operational excellence’.

‘MyLearning’ allows individuals to choose their own development pathways to enable their future career goals while helping users ‘stay compliant with reminders and alerts around crucial courses for their business areas such as Data Security or changes in legislation such as the GDPR’. ‘MyInsights’ streamlines reporting data and generating reporting using Power BI in place of the MS suite – simplifying trend analysis and reducing time lag.

Walsh also discussed the need for more robust authentication processes by leveraging digital footprints and automation which can reduce processing time frames from hours to minutes.  Automated verification processes might include; document image processing, document acceptance/rejection, optical character recognition, data comparison, image-based fraud checks and more.

In conclusion, the day was a crash course in the future of recruitment and technology – and how all best prepare and embrace the inevitable changes to come.

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