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Ireland Quarterly Employment Monitor: Market sees cautious start to 2024

Ireland Quarterly Employment Monitor: Market sees cautious start to 2024
Submitted by Sayoojya on
  • Market dynamics shaped by sustainability drive and regulatory shifts
  • Employers continue to push for more onsite days

Morgan McKinley's latest Quarterly Employment Monitor reveals a cautious start to 2024 in the Irish professional job market, with a significant 13.8% decrease in job openings compared to the previous quarter and a stark year-on-year decline of 29.6%. This contraction reflects broader economic uncertainties and a shift in employment expectations at the beginning of the year.

Additionally, the first quarter saw a 2.4% decrease in professional job seekers from Q4 2023, with a substantial year-on-year drop of 31.3%. This reduction in job-seeking activity points to a more conservative approach by professionals, marked reluctance among professionals to change jobs without secured offers.

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Despite these challenges, there are positive developments buoying the market. Significant investments announced by IDA Ireland across financial services, life sciences, manufacturing, and technology are expected to spur job creation and sectoral growth as these new roles begin to emerge in the market. These strategic investments are expected to offset the current hesitant hiring environment by boosting economic activity and creating job opportunities.

Overall, salaries have remained stable across various sectors, but there are exceptions in areas experiencing talent shortages, such as Quantity Surveyors, Tax professionals, Pension specialists, and Cybersecurity experts.

A notable trend across all industries is the increasing requirement for onsite work, especially impacting technology professionals accustomed to more flexible arrangements before the pandemic, now facing minimum onsite requirements. Additionally, the ongoing accommodation crisis in Ireland continues to hinder the hiring and integration of overseas talent, further complicating the employment landscape.

Professional Jobs

Professional Job Seekers

Trayc Keevans, Global FDI Director, Morgan McKinley Ireland, said:

“During the first quarter of 2024, Ireland's employment market was underpinned by hiring activity driven by the implementation of new European regulations and a growing focus on sustainability. This led to increased recruitment in compliance, governance, risk management, and emerging ESG reporting roles. Large enterprises, preparing for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (CSRD) and Senior Executive Accountability Regime (SEAR), are driving the demand for ESG (Strategy and Reporting) and compliance professionals.

“Additionally, preparations for the Digital Operational Resilience Act (DORA) have increased the need for Risk , Compliance, Analytics, Project Management, IT and cybersecurity experts. The crypto job market is also expanding in anticipation of EU Markets in Crypto-Assets (MiCA) regulation, driving demand for crypto specialists and legal professionals.

“The technology sector has seen a significant uptick in demand for permanent jobs due to the initiation of long-term digital transformation projects, mainly in Dublin. This demand is anticipated to extend to contract positions as initial project phases conclude. However, the market for daily contractors has fluctuated,initially decreasing due to cost-cutting measures but showing signs of recovery as the quarter ended. High demand skills include ERP, HRIS projects, Governance, Risk & Compliance, Object-Oriented Programming (OOP), and AI & Automation. Salaries have remained stable, though IT Security roles continue to command premium pay due to scarce talent.

“The financial services sector in Ireland shows steady hiring, with a rise in roles like Regulatory Compliance Analysts and Data Governance Managers due to new regulations such as MIFID II and forthcoming DORA. There's also increased demand for experts in pension administration and ESG due to regulatory changes. New regulations, like the Auto-enrolment scheme coming in January 2025, are reshaping skill requirements, particularly in pension management, where talent shortages are currently evident. Internationally, interest persists in financial roles in Ireland, while Irish professionals continue to migrate to destinations like Australia, Canada, and Dubai.

“In Dublin, the demand for accounting and finance professionals remains strong, particularly for Tax Managers and newly qualified accountants from Big 4 firms. However, regional markets have seen a slight decline in hiring, partly due to professionals choosing to stay in their current roles, attracted by better salaries and career prospects in practice settings. Overall, recruitment remains challenging due to ongoing talent shortages, further exacerbated by qualified accountants migrating to countries like Australia, intensifying the scarcity of talent in this sector.

“The legal sector has faced a moderate decrease in demand, particularly impacted by slower M&A activity. There is a slight increase in demand for conveyancing lawyers, reflecting heightened activity in the commercial real estate market. Dispute resolution skills are also in slightly higher demand due to progressing commercial disputes. Negotiations for hybrid work arrangements are becoming common, with most professionals preferring three days of remote work and employers typically aiming for three days in the office.

“The life sciences sector is leaning more towards contract hiring, particularly for QA and QC roles, as companies adapt to the dynamic market conditions. The sector is also focused on internal training to promote from within as a strategy to mitigate external hiring needs. Salaries in this sector have stabilised, but the demand for niche skills like auditing and regulatory affairs remains high, which may lead to increased permanent hiring in the latter half of the year.

“Engineering continues to see strong demand across various roles, with a particular need for skills in automation, maintenance, and reliability. The sector benefits from international talent, although ongoing housing issues in Ireland pose challenges to relocation efforts. Companies are increasingly creating standalone roles to address specific needs such as equipment reliability and environmental safety.

“The construction sector continues to demand a high number of skilled professionals like Quantity Surveyors and Project Managers, driven by large projects in urban centres. The persistent housing crisis, along with international opportunities in countries like England, Europe, the Middle East, Australia, Canada, and the US, is prompting local talent to consider positions abroad.”

Current most in-demand positions by discipline:

Executive: Head of ESG Strategy, Head of ESG Strategy, CISO (retail), Head of Compliance (PCF 12), MLRO- Head of Anti Money Laundering (PCF 52), Chief Risk Officer (PCF14) , CEO (PCF 42), and Independent Non Exec Director (PCF 2-B )

Technology: QA Engineer, IT Risk Auditor, Software Engineer, Solution Architect, IT Support Engineer, Network Engineer, Cybersecurity engineer.

Financial Services: Regulatory Compliance Analyst (Banking), Data Governance Lead, Data Governance Manager, Compliance Monitoring Officer, Compliance Officer, Mergers & Acquisition Analyst, Debt & Equity Analysts, Operations Risk Associate Director, Operational Risk Manager, Middle Office Manager, Financial Advisor, Financial Consultant, Paraplanner, Pensions Administrator, Pensions Consultant, Pensions Specialist, Mortgage Sales Advisor.

Accounting & Finance: Dublin - Newly Qualified Accountant with Big 4 experience, Tax Manager, Qualified Accountant 3-5 years PQE, Audit Senior, Accounts Payable. In the regions - Financial Accountant, Financial Controller, Payroll Specialist, FP&A Analyst, Bookkeepers.

Life Sciences: QC Analyst, QA Specialist, QA Director, Quality Engineer, Formulation Scientist, NPD Scientist, Regulatory Affairs Manager, Regulatory Affairs Specialist.

Engineering: Maintenance Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Mechanical/Electrical Design Engineer, Energy Engineer, EHS Engineer.

Projects, Transformation & Change: IT Project Manager, Business Analyst, PMO Manager, PMO Analyst, Scrum Master.

Business Support: Administrator, Office Manager, Receptionist, Executive Assistant, Personal Assistant, Legal Secretary.

HR: HR Business Partner, Senior HR Business Partner, HR Administrator, HR Coordinator.

Construction: Quantity Surveyor, Project Manager, Civil Engineer, Electrical Engineer, Mechanical Engineer.

Supply Chain & Procurement: Planner, Supply Chain Specialist, Procurement Specialist, Procurement Manager, Production professionals at all levels.

Multilingual: Multilingual Customer Support Representative, Multilingual Operations Executive, Multilingual Administrator, Multilingual Sales Support, Multilingual Content Moderator.

Marketing: Communications Manager, Digital Marketing Executive, Marketing Manager, Sustainability Advisor, Events Coordinator.

Legal: Company Secretary, Employment Lawyer, Privacy Lawyer, Property Lawyer, Corporate Lawyer.

Statistical methodology

  • Monthly new jobs and new candidates:

Monthly new jobs and new candidate figures are based on Morgan McKinley’s monthly records of new permanent and contract job vacancies and new candidates registering with the firm for employment. Statistics for the full market are derived using Morgan McKinley’s market share.

  • Job classification:

Job vacancies are professional-level positions within the following sectors and functions: Legal, Financial Services, Technology, Accounting & Finance, Business Support, Sales & Marketing, HR, Multilingual, Supply Chain & Procurement, Life Sciences & Engineering, Project, Change & Transformation and Executive.

  • Geography:

The data is based on new job vacancies and new candidates registered with Morgan McKinley’s network of Irish offices in Cork, Dublin, Galway, Limerick, and Waterford.