The technology sector can become the new mainstay of the Cypriot economy and offer high level career opportunities to our country's youth. These are some of the key conclusions that emerged from the findings of a survey conducted last October by IMR/University of Nicosia™ on behalf of the non-profit organisation TechIsland.
The purpose of the survey was to explore the citizens’ views and perceptions regarding the impact of the sector on Cyprus’ economy compared to other sectors, the prospect of Cyprus becoming a technological hub and the impact this would have on the economy and the young people of our country. The survey is also an important tool for understanding how citizens view the technology sector and what direction they believe should be taken to strengthen it and, by extension, strengthen the Cypriot economy.
The survey’s findings indicate that the economy is the major problem citizens are facing today and also that citizens generally agree that the Cypriot economy should not be solely based on the traditional sectors of activity and that there is a need to expand the sectors on which our country's economic model is based. In particular, the technology, health and education sectors are at the top of people's list of priorities, ahead of traditional sectors such as tourism, financial services and real estate and this could well be the first time this has occurred.
As reflected in the survey, the overwhelming majority of respondents believe that Cyprus is able to attract international high-tech companies and the talented human resources required by the sector. Moreover, they are in favour of expanding the incentive framework of attracting them to Cyprus.
Investing in new sectors and decoupling from traditional sectors of economic activity
Investment in new sectors of economic activity and disassociating the Cypriot economy from traditional sectors is one of the major conclusions that clearly emerge from the survey results. When asked how necessary it is to expand the sectors on which our country's economic model is based, 84% of respondents answered quite or very necessary, thus confirming the need to disassociate the economy from traditional sectors and invest in new ones.
Respondents' answers were also along the same lines regarding the areas we need to focus on to promote the development of our economy. More specifically, in response to the question “Which sectors do you believe we should invest in as a country now, in order for our economy to grow?”, respondents placed Technology, Education and Health in the top three positions, with each percentage reaching or exceeding 60%.
This result can be considered surprising, as the rates recorded for these three sectors were higher than those for the traditional sectors of economic activity including tourism, financial services and real estate, despite the long-established perception that the latter are the main pillars supporting the development of the local economy. According to the results of the survey, the three traditional sectors were at relatively low levels, with rates of 55%, 32% and 19% respectively.
The sector’s impact on the economy is positive and the outlook regarding its potential is very optimistic
Regarding the sector's impact on the economy, the survey indicated that feelings are positive about its present and future potential. According to the results of the survey, the vast majority of citizens believe that the transformation of Cyprus into a technology hub will have a positive impact on the economy, transforming the sector into a key pillar of economic growth.
When asked “What impact do you think the technology/ICT sector has on the country's economy today?”, 76% of respondents answered that it has a considerable or adequate impact, while the results expressed in regard to the future impact that the sector may have on the country's economy, if and when Cyprus becomes a base for high-tech companies, were impressive as the percentage of positive responses reached 86%.
When asked whether the sector can become the main pillar of our country’s economic development in the coming years, citizens responded along the same lines, with 82% answering positively, thus confirming the positive perception that prevails regarding the positive economic effects of the sector and its strong prospects.
An attractive sector, especially for young people, that is able to offer professional opportunities
The research also indicated that the sector is especially attractive to young people, as are the professional opportunities it can offer. When asked “To what extent would you say the technology sector can present an opportunity for a successful career for young people?”, 93% and 95% of respondents respectively, answered positively, highlighting the perception of citizens as to the positive impact that the sector can have on the labour market and the local economy in general. It is also noteworthy that the sector's attractiveness index in the under-25 age group reaches 81%, outperforming any other sector in this age group.
Attracting companies and talent if and when we offer incentives
Finally, the results of the survey prove that Cypriots believe that the country can attract high-tech companies and talented human resources if and when the government takes additional measures towards this direction, since more needs to be done.
Specifically, when asked whether the steps and actions that have been taken by the state to strengthen the high-tech sector so far are in the right or wrong direction, 51% answered that they are in the wrong direction, while when asked whether the government should take additional measures to strengthen the sector, the vast majority of 95% answered in the affirmative, sending a strong message about the need to invest in the technology sector.
At the same time, it is noteworthy that 71% and 79% of the respondents answered with confidence that Cyprus can attract foreign high-tech companies and talent from this field, stating that facilitating settlement and employment, providing tax incentives and improving licensing procedures were the main areas to focus on.
IMR/UNIVERSITY OF NICOSIA
URBAN AND RURAL AREAS ACROSS CYPRUS
MEN AND WOMEN AGED 20-55
RANDOM STRATIFIED SAMPLING
TELEPHONE INTERVIEWS USING A STRUCTURED QUESTIONNAIRE