Irish firms are most optimistic in Europe for taking on staff

Despite high outlook, employers complain of ‘dire talent shortages’ in new survey

The construction industry is one area that is experiencing ‘renewed optimism’

The construction industry is one area that is experiencing ‘renewed optimism’


Irish employers have the joint highest outlook in Europe in terms of taking on new staff in the coming quarter, but are also reporting “dire talent shortages”, according to a new survey.

Employers report a net employment outlook of +15 per cent for the third quarter, with all sectors surveyed reporting positive hiring plans for the next three months, the latest ManpowerGroup Employment Outlook Survey says.

Yet despite growing confidence as the economy reopens, employers are also facing “dire talent shortages” when looking for new staff, with 78 per cent struggling to fill roles due to a lack of available talent.

The survey is based on responses from 504 employers in the Republic. It asks whether employers intend to hire additional workers or reduce the size of their workforce in the coming quarter.

Nationwide, employers in all eight industry sectors report positive hiring plans for the quarter.

Construction (+39 per cent); pharmaceuticals (+30 per cent); restaurants and hotels (+21 per cent); wholesale and retail trade (+17 per cent); and manufacturing (+16 per cent) were the most positive sectors.

Elsewhere, other services, which encompass public and social, transport, storage and communication, was up 15 per cent, while finance and business services was up 6 per cent.

Other production, which encompasses mining and quarrying, agriculture, hunting, forestry and fishing and electricity, as well as gas and water, was up 6 per cent.


From a regional perspective, the results show employers in the Connaught region are the most confident, with an outlook of +29 per cent.

Employers in Leinster report an outlook of +19 per cent, while employers in Ulster report an outlook of +14 per cent, and Dublin and Munster are both at +12 per cent.

Larger-sized organisations (250+ employees) are the most confident, with an outlook of +29 per cent.

Medium-sized organisations (50-249 employees) report an outlook of +24 per cent, while small-sized organisations (10-49 employees) report an outlook of +15 per cent and micro-sized organisations (1-10 employees) report an outlook of +11 per cent.

John Galvin, managing director of ManpowerGroup Ireland, said the headline figure was the highest recorded in Ireland since 2007.

“As the vaccination programme continues to gather pace, employers are finally confident they can plan for the future without further restrictions impacting their business plans,” he said.

“At the same time, organisations in Ireland are facing some of the most challenging hiring conditions in years.

“There’s a perception that, due to the economic fallout of the pandemic, employers will have access to a greater pool of talent than before.

“Yet what we’re seeing from clients is that many skillsets are increasingly difficult to find, with highly skilled workers in Ireland content to remain in their current roles rather than look for new opportunities, many with increased loyalty to their employer who saw them through the pandemic.”

‘Renewed optimism’

Mr Galvin said the construction industry was one area that is experiencing “renewed optimism”.

“This sector has been notably hard-hit throughout the pandemic, with non-essential building projects forced to close, yet employers are galvanising around the opportunity to fully reopen sites, permissible as of May 4th, and are planning for the future once again,” he said.

“As a sector with well-documented skills shortages, we expect construction companies to move fast to snap up the talent they require for the next quarter.”

Elsewhere, the restaurants and hotels sector is reporting the most positive outlook since the pandemic hit Ireland.

“It’s particularly encouraging to see employers in the hospitality sector report strong positive hiring intentions,” said Mr Galvin.

“This time last year, at the height of the pandemic, we reported the lowest outlook for the sector in the history of the survey.

“Now, while the vaccination programme gathers momentum, we’re seeing employers increasingly confident of welcoming back tourists and adding to their staff headcounts once again.”