The professional jobs market is showing signs of stabilising with a 30% decline in the number of job seekers and an 18% drop in the number of vacancies in 2023.
The figures in the Morgan McKinley Employment Monitor suggest growing stability in job tenures and a lower rate of attrition, likely influenced by retention strategies and a cautious approach by job seekers.
“When there’s any economic volatility you’ll find that employees will be less enticed to the market place,” said Trayc Keevans, Global FDI Director, Morgan McKinley Ireland. “Coupled with that we saw salaries stabilising last year, so there was less of an incentive for candidates to the move and employers did put very good retention strategies in place over the last two years and they’re happy to see that those are coming to fruition.”
Overall stability in salaries also reflects a cautiously evolving job market. Many organisations are not seeing the need to significantly increase salaries to attract and retain talent.
Morgan McKinley has seen a notable trend where employers are increasingly seeking more on-site presence from employees, signaling a shift from the prevalent hybrid working model to a more balanced dynamic between remote and on-site work.
“For new employees, there’s no better learning than learning from experienced colleagues and employers recognise that,” Ms Keevans told Morning Ireland. “There’s a little bit of tension still. Employees see it as control while employers see it as collaboration but I think that this push for more working on site is here to stay.”
Overall, the most significant number of job openings was in the first quarter, which indicates a trend towards market stabilisation, especially in sectors such as Financial Services, Technology, and Life Sciences.
However, certain areas like Projects, Transformation and Change, and Supply Chain saw slight declines, primarily due to budget overruns.
Job market activity increased in the first two months of Q4 but experienced the usual decline towards year-end in December.
“Financial Services, Technology, and Life Sciences demonstrated ongoing strength, in spite of some significant cutbacks by largescale employers in the digital platforms sector.
She said the implementation of EU cybersecurity regulations led to increased demand for specialised positions, particularly in cybersecurity and digital resilience.
The financial services sector showed a continuation of the cautious approach adopted from Q3 onwards, with no significant increase in hiring. In addition, over the last quarter, employers remained less open to look overseas for talent due to the accommodation crisis making the relocation process challenging.
“In accounting and finance, there was a moderate decrease in demand for permanent roles, mainly due to end-of-year factors,” she said. “However, there was a slight increase in demand for contract positions as companies addressed immediate talent needs while planning for 2024. Regions like the west of Ireland saw an increase in permanent positions due to new job announcements and expansions.”
The life sciences sector experienced a moderate decrease in demand for permanent positions, with a focus on contract-based hiring aligned with budget considerations for the new year. “We are expecting to see an uplift in hiring as several large pharmaceutical companies have expansion projects pipelined for 2024. The engineering sector, on the other hand, maintained stable demand for both permanent and contract positions.”
In the technology sector, there was a noticeable increase in demand both for permanent and contract positions, driven by end-of-year budget approvals and a proactive approach to securing top talent for 2024.
The most in-demand skills included Cloud Computing, Kubernetes, Oracle, React, and TOGAF (The Open Group Architectural Framework) certification, reflecting companies’ efforts to modernise and scale their technology stacks.
“Interestingly, mobile development saw a decrease in demand due to market saturation and a shift towards Cross-Platform Development frameworks like React Native or Flutter,” Ms Keevans said.
In the legal sector, demand slowed down, mirroring the trends also seen in London’s legal hiring market, which has also slowed down significantly primarily for economic reasons.
“There is a correlation between the movement of local qualified lawyers to London seeking higher salaries and the knock-on effect on job openings here to backfill the positions they vacate locally. Skills in commercial contracts and employment legal advice remained in demand, but there was a slowdown in the demand for property lawyers.”
Construction experienced a modest increase in demand for construction talent due to the ongoing work in the market, particularly for Project Management and Quantity Surveying roles. Ms Keevans said both employers and professionals relocating are still frustrated with the lack of accommodation available in the country to welcome overseas talent.