With Irish companies increasingly urged to step into new markets, the benefits are clear – new opportunities can equal new customers to deliver big growth.
The challenges of communication and cultural understanding are sometimes a barrier that can make companies nervous about pursuing those rewards.
But support is available to help you attract top talent that will enable your business to succeed and scale in new export markets. Top among these is a unique programme called GradStart, which has helped many Irish companies to overcome the challenges of communicating with customers and partners overseas. It provides funding for Enterprise Ireland-backed companies, across a broad range of business sectors, to employ graduates in a variety of positions.
Why apply for GradStart?
Attract top graduate talent
Get the tools your company needs to successfully compete for graduate talent in a crowded marketplace. Helen McMahon, senior executive for Client Skills with Enterprise Ireland, advises:
“Having the right skills in a company is a huge issue in an era of low unemployment. To get the skills they need, Irish SMEs also have to compete with multinational companies and overseas employers for candidates. GradStart can really help with attracting the right talent into a company.”
The benefits of GradStart can also extend beyond meeting the immediate skills needs of a company. Long term, Irish companies can build relationships, not just with graduates in their sector but with relevant education and training institutes. These relationships can position you at the very cutting edge of your industry not just now, but into the future.
Build your company’s capability
Using GradStart helps Irish companies to build capabilities across a broad range of disciplines, including engineering, ICT, operations, technology, and finance. In fact, the only two areas for which GradStart support is not available is for graduates working in direct sales and marketing.
Helen adds, “With graduates, people often immediately think of sales and marketing. But language graduates have a great deal more to offer. For example, they can work in market analysis or customer analysis. They can help develop a business case or have input to the new product development or adaptations to existing products.”
Stimulate innovative thinking
A recruit with a fresh perspective can help your business to approach challenges and opportunities in new ways, by questioning the way things are done and introducing new ideas about products, processes and business models.
Helen says, “To succeed in European and global markets, Irish companies need the confidence of knowing they have the best talent, the most innovative thinkers and the freshest ideas in their sector. By enabling them to attract, retain and build long-term relationships with ambitious, talented individuals, GradStart helps Irish SMEs develop a real competitive edge in new markets.”
Special support for languages
The Eurozone should be high on the list of markets targeted by Irish exporters. The scale of the opportunity is immense. Enterprise Ireland-backed companies currently send €7.9bn in exports to the UK.* If they were to export the same amount per head of population to the Eurozone, that figure would rise to €38bn. [*Source]
If the Eurozone is a market you have yet to explore, GradStart can help. While the programme is available for graduates in a wide variety of disciplines, there is a particular focus on language graduates given their importance in developing export markets.
“Irish companies have traditionally focused on English-speaking markets and it’s true to say that, as a country, we don’t generally have great foreign language skills,” explains Helen.
Research shows that Ireland lags behind our European neighbours on language proficiency and that can impede a company’s ability to succeed in non-English speaking markets.
“It’s not just about being able to speak to clients and business partners in their own language, although that’s important,” says Helen. “At a deeper level, it’s about understanding the cultural nuances and having a clear picture of the business environment as it is, not as you think it might be.”
“You can have a brilliant product or service but if you have no grasp of sometimes quite subtle differences in, for example, marketing norms, visual preferences or business processes you won’t meet with the same success. The only way to truly understand a customer is to speak their language.
“To really build relationships in non-English speaking export markets, the companies and clients you’re dealing with really need to feel you understand where they’re coming from in terms of language and culture. They’ll appreciate you putting that energy into understanding them which can make all the difference in a new market.”
What does GradStart offer?
GradStart provides financial support for a company to recruit up to three graduates. That covers 50% of a graduate’s yearly salary, up to a maximum of €15,000 a year in grant aid (ie a salary of €30,000) for two years, depending on certain conditions.
For graduates with proficiency in a language relevant to the business role, the grant increases to 70% of the salary, up to a maximum of €21,000 a year for two years.
It is available for Irish graduates or for overseas graduates, based either here or overseas. As long as the graduate is being paid by an Irish company, GradStart can provide funding.
Get the support you need to step into new markets. Apply for GradStart now.