Professional salaries will be flat in 2021, says Morgan McKinley

Supply chain, customs and financial compliance among the skills in high demand

Professional salaries in the Irish market are likely to remain flat on average in 2021, although employees and contractors with certain in-demand and emerging niche skills can expect a 5 per cent uplift, according to recruitment company Morgan McKinley.

Supply chain and procurement expertise will be in strong demand following the "sharp shock" to global supply chains from Covid-19 and Brexit, said Trayc Keevans, global foreign direct investment (FDI) director of Morgan McKinley Ireland. The life sciences and food sectors have been hiring "extensively" on this front and this is expected to continue throughout 2021.

But the biggest shortage of talent can be found in trade and customs, where many salaries are in line for inflation, Ms Keevans said.

“The intense demand for all types of customs and trade-related talent includes customs agents, clearance agents, customs brokers, shipping and customs managers, trade and customs tax specialists, customs compliance specialists, etc, and this will continue with pace throughout 2021.”


The UK’s loss of financial services “passporting” rights as a result of Brexit means financial services companies are expected to activate hiring plans in the Irish market.

This will give rise to recruitment in areas such as risk and compliance as companies meet Central Bank requirements, while the funds sector is forecast to create more than 6,000 jobs by 2025.

‘In demand’

“Key skill sets in demand have included product fund roles, derivatives, client services, fund accounting oversight, trade operations, fixed income, investment analysts and private equity specialists,” said Ms Keevans.

“There continues to be a focus on front office skills with roles primarily focusing on revenue generating, such as investment analysts, portfolio managers and trading positions.”

Demand for engineering talent is also likely to continue unabated in 2021, she added, while the pharma and technology sectors will once again remain strong.

By contrast, law firms were “severely hit” by the pandemic and will see only “a cautious return to hiring” from the second quarter, while there has been a mix of fortunes for the construction sector, with some parts yet to recover from Covid-19 shutdowns and other areas, such as data centre and industry construction, “booming”.

A chronic skills shortage in construction, however, means project managers, quantity surveyors, civil and structural engineers and site managers are “all in serious demand”.

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery

Laura Slattery is an Irish Times journalist writing about media, advertising and other business topics