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Professional job vacancies and seekers down sharply in first quarter

Number of vacancies in professional roles down by 13.8 per cent on the final quarter to 2023, say Morgan McKinley

The professional jobs market has tightened significantly over the first three months of the year, with the numbers both of openings and of jobseekers falling by almost a third on the same period last year, according to Morgan McKinley’s latest Quarterly Employment Monitor.

The company found the number of vacancies in professional roles was down by 13.8 per cent on the final quarter to 2023 and 29.6 per cent when compared with the corresponding period last year.

The corresponding falls in jobseeker numbers were put at 2.4 per cent and 31.3 per cent, with the recruitment firm suggesting an increased reluctance on the part of professionals to contemplate a move without the prospect of a confirmed offer given the greater levels of economic uncertainty.

Salaries have remained generally stable in recent months although the pay for roles involving skills in short supply, including quantity surveyor, tax professional and cybersecurity expert, continues to increase.


Demand for candidates in a range of other areas remained strong through the opening months of the year, according to Morgan McKinley’s Global FDI Director, Trayc Keevans, however.

“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,” she said. “This led to increased recruitment in compliance, governance, risk management, and emerging ESG (environmental, social and governance) reporting roles.

“Large enterprises, preparing for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and Senior Executive Accountability Regime, are driving the demand for ESG and compliance professionals.

“Additionally, preparations for the Digital Operational Resilience Act (Dora) have increased the need for experts in risk, compliance, analytics, project management, IT and cybersecurity. The crypto job market is also expanding in anticipation of EU Markets in Crypto-Assets regulation, driving demand for crypto specialists and legal professionals.”

The tech sector witnessed “a significant uptick in demand for permanent jobs due to the initiation of long-term digital transformation projects, mainly in Dublin”, she said.

Figures released earlier this month for the first quarter showed the number of permits granted for workers recruited to work in the ICT sector from overseas was up almost 70 per cent year on year.

The figures for the financial and scientific sectors were largely unchanged on a year ago. The number of health workers receiving permits was significantly down.

Morgan McKinley suggests that accommodation shortages is still hindering international recruitment into Ireland.

It also finds the trend of companies requiring employees to return to the office to be continuing.

In the legal sector, it suggests, the issue has become a particular point of negotiation in recruitment, with candidates typically seeking an arrangement that allows them to work from home three days a week and companies aiming for three days on-site.

“The life sciences sector is leaning more towards contract hiring,” says Ms Keevans, “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.”

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone

Emmet Malone is Work Correspondent at The Irish Times