Digital hubs in regions proving attractive alternative amid cost of living crisis

Digital Hubs In Regions Proving Attractive Alternative Amid Cost Of Living Crisis Digital Hubs In Regions Proving Attractive Alternative Amid Cost Of Living Crisis
Anne O’Leary, CEO of Vodafone Ireland and John Keaney, CEO of SIRO (centre) with Daniel McGonnell; Ciara Matthews; Ellie Merrigan; David Sharpe; Lucy Warde; Aishwarya Agarwal; Adedapo Elujoba; Gillian Scally and Anand Jain at the announcement of phase two of the Vodafone Siro Gigabit Hub Initiative.
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Just over half of young adults aged 18-24 say the lack of affordable housing would make them consider living and working outside of Ireland’s main cities, according to a new study carried out to mark the launch of phase two of the Vodafone SIRO Gigabit Hub Initiative.

The second phase will see 15 new hubs connected in towns across Ireland.

The study, carried out among more than 300 18-24-year-olds by Empathy Research, provides significant insights into how the next generation of employees wish to work and the factors influencing their decisions.

Work from home

The majority of participants favoured the option to work from home full-time, rather than the option to work in the office or a hybrid working model, with 77 per cent indicating this option within their top three preferences for ways of working.


The results of the survey highlight a growing attraction among young adults to work from a digital hub (51 percent), with the majority of participants (73 percent) believing this to be a more cost-effective option than living and working in a city centre.

The flexibility and more time to access further education due to working from a hub are also factors that appeal to young adults.

Vodafone SIRO Gigabit Hub Initiative

The Vodafone SIRO Gigabit Hub Initiative, launched in 2017, currently provides free 1 Gigabit high-speed broadband to digital hubs across Ireland, enabling businesses to thrive and bringing new life, skills and people to towns across the country.

The first phase of the Initiative, which completed last year, supported many of Ireland’s leading hubs and co-working facilities, including Ludgate Hub in Skibbereen, Galway’s PorterShed, and Dundalk’s Creative Spark.

The next phase of the Initiative is being launched today and hubs across Ireland are encouraged to apply. Details are available on SIRO’s website,

According to the study, salary, work-life balance and commuting times were the most important factors influencing young adults when considering a new career or role.

Interestingly, males (37 per cent) see salary as being the most important consideration, compared with females at just 21 per cent, who instead rank work-life balance as being the most important (25 per cent).



Opportunities to travel internationally and networking opportunities were among the lower priorities for participants in their career choices, at 2 per cent and 4 per cent respectively.

Additionally, multinational companies were the most appealing organisations for young people beginning their career at 30 per cent, followed by working for a small to medium businesses (24 per cent). However, when viewed by gender, 31 per cent of women favoured the option to work for an SME, compared with 18 per cent men.


In terms of working with a startup, this was favoured more by males (21 per cent) over females (9 per cent). Also of interest is that based on location, 18 per cent of those in Dublin were more likely to become an entrepreneur and start their own business, compared with 5 percent of those based outside of Dublin.

Commenting on the launch, Vodafone Ireland chief executive Anne O’Leary observes: "Our study clearly shows how important flexible and hybrid working is to the next generation, which continues to prove transformative for people, businesses and local communities.

"As we’ve seen in recent weeks, the concept, provision and demand for digital hubs is growing around the country and this will only increase as we see those finishing second and third level education adapt to the new future of work and life-long learning.


"The advantages are clear in terms of access to collaborative and creative spaces, not to mention allowing people work closer to their home and local communities that will boost rural communities. We are therefore delighted to support phase two of our gigabit initiative and provide an additional 15 hubs across Ireland with 1 Gigabit broadband connectivity.

Anne O’Leary and John Keaney at the launch. "The research shows many young people are open to working and living where their family and community connections are located, if this is feasible," Keaney says. 

According to the study, O’Leary says: "There are a number of factors influencing these insights which employers and other key stakeholders need to be cognisant of as we shape future ways of working and the future of our communities.

"The most significant of these is the lack of affordable accommodation and the rising cost of living, which is having a direct impact on the choice where to live, decisions about education, and future employment and career choices among young adults – all of which will affect the future fabric of our economy and society."

Regional development

Commenting on the next phase of the Initiative and the survey results, SIRO chief executive John Keaney notes: "Today’s research results are very encouraging in terms of the future of work and balanced regional development.

"They underpin what has been SIRO’s philosophy since we first commenced rolling out fibre broadband to 154 Irish towns. Namely, give communities access to world-class connectivity and then work from anywhere becomes possible.

"The research shows many young people are open to working and living where their family and community connections are located, if this is feasible," Keaney says. "Access to high-quality fibre broadband networks, like SIRO’s, are now making this possible. This is transformative for Ireland’s economic and social development. Hubs are playing a crucial role in bridging the gap between home and work in many towns across Ireland.

"SIRO is delighted, to once again, support more digital hubs around Ireland by providing them with Gigabit fibre broadband to underpin their connectivity offering."

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