Ireland’s got talent, undoubtedly, just not enough to go around right now in many industries! That is according to the National Recruitment Federation (ERF), whose CEO Geraldine King has the lowdown on the top jobs recruiters will seek to fill in 2020, and the roles and sectors coming under increasing pressure to secure labour.
At 4.8% unemployment, the European Union's fastest growing economy is essentially at full employment, where just about everyone who wants a job already has one.
Numerous social and economic factors impact job market supply and demand, not least societal development and needs. The nature of work we do, and how we do it, is evolving faster than ever. A company’s workforce is now likely to come from an extended ecosystem of full-time and part-time employees, agency workers, temporary roles, consultants and freelancers.
Rapid technology change like robotics and automation is, on one hand, making some manufacturing jobs obsolete. But technology is also seen to have created more jobs than it has eliminated.
The increasing demand for IT skills is a simple reflection of a sector where knowledge is expanding exponentially, and where more people are therefore needed to apply this knowledge to deliver new products, services and solutions.
Indirectly too, technological progress creates jobs in other sectors. It allows consumers to meet existing needs at lower cost, and to carry out tasks when and where they choose, and in less time. This, in turn, allows them spend their time and money on recreational goods and services, which positively impacts demand in areas like hospitality, leisure and sports, and beauty and wellbeing.
Technology, however, still very much dominates the top of the hot job spots, according to LinkedIn’s recent Emerging Jobs Report for Europe. Demand is surging for artificial intelligence specialists, those involved in improving the ability of machines to learn. It was the fastest-growing job in many European countries last year, including the UK, Spain and Germany.
Other tech-related jobs such as marketing automation specialists feature in the top jobs, while GDPR and data protection roles experienced the biggest growth in Europe.
In the first year of GDPR, data privacy concerns are growing, alongside complaints to regulators, so demand to fill roles like Data Protection Officer and Cyber Security Specialist is on the rise.
In Ireland specifically, tech, financial services and pharma are sectors where competition for top talent is hotly contested, according Siobhan O’Shea, a member of the ERF Executive Committee and Client Services Director at Cpl, Ireland’s largest recruitment agency.
As in recent years, software engineering remains the most competitive area of tech recruitment, O’Shea maintains, with engineers paid for their depth of skills, rather than years of experience.
There is high demand for data talent too, with companies across all industries adopting a more data-driven approach, leveraging data to make better informed decisions about how they operate, according to O’Shea.
“Data science will continue to be a top job into the next decade because of the growth of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Those who can offer advanced knowledge in statistics, maths and computer science to collect and interpret large data sets can add value to any business”.
And the demand for such talent is creating a strong sellers’ market, she says
“Permanent hires are favoured over contracted tech and data support, as companies try to retain this knowledge base in-house. However, flexible and remote working is a prerequisite for most tech talent”, the Cpl director says.
Year of the Candidate
2019 will be remembered as the year of the candidate, says David Walsh, Director of Osborne Recruitment, with the advice to employers for 2020 being to move fast!
“Counteroffers, higher salaries, extra perks and holidays, and a spotlight on employer brands typifies the market, as organisations seek to attract the best talent in the marketplace. Top talent doesn’t remain on the shelf for long, and lengthy hiring processes can mean employers losing out on the best candidates”, Walsh says.
As specialists in the technical, engineering and IT sectors, Osborne Recruitment has seen Ireland become a global hub of the technology ecosystem, with co-working and regional ‘hubs’ on the rise.
Brexit hasn't had a noticeable impact on hiring plans or on the number of positions on offer, David Walsh says, and the war for talent continues, giving candidates plenty of leverage.
“Candidates are pushing for more remote working and for contract roles, as opposed to permanent jobs, as day rates are generally higher, with more flexibility”.
Continued growth in pay is a given too, with, for example, senior software developers commanding anything from €80K to €120K, he adds.
The financial services market in Ireland continues to thrive, with demand for funds and asset management.
In the banking space, there is extensive growth in corporate and investment roles, with international operators escalating their Dublin operations. In 2017, Bank of America Merrill Lynch became the first major UK-based entity to select Dublin as its new base for EU operations.
‘Soft skills’ married with ‘hard skills’ are needed from the finance professional of 2020, according to Edward Heffernan, Managing Partner at Barden, accountancy, finance and tax recruitment experts.
“It's not enough anymore to just be a good accountant. There is a continued surge in demand for commercially minded, people-orientated finance professionals to help companies make better decisions based on strong financial and non-financial numerical data”, Heffernan maintains.
Data Analysts and Business Analysts are new in-demand roles, he explains, with companies seeking highly numerate individuals with the ability to analyse data, extract information, and use it to inform insights through visualisation tools like ‘Tableau’.
Early career finance professionals, especially graduates with 1-2 years’ experience, continue to be the single biggest area of demand in finance, as companies build their finance teams for the future.
Tax professionals at all levels are in huge demand too, with the changing corporate tax landscape across Europe. And, as big firms and financial services organisations seek alternative revenue streams, they will continue to invest in project and change management professionals, striving to remain relevant, move towards automation and maintain shareholder value.
Healthy Career Opportunity
The most in-demand knowledge areas in the pharma sector right now include quality control, quality assurance, R&D, regulatory affairs and manufacturing technology transfer.
Over the last decade, approximately €10 billion has been invested in Irish biopharmaceuticals, one of the biggest waves of biotech investment globally. This growth has created increased competition for talent, with flexible and contract work now more common, meeting the demands of the market’s top candidates.
Ireland’s aging population drives demand in the healthcare industry. According to Eurostat, around 20% of the European population is aged 65 or over, and life expectancy continues to increase.
Medical doctors, surgeons and ancillary hospital roles are always in-demand, increasing in line with the development of technology in the healthcare and biomedical fields.
Healthcare recruitment specialists here have constant demand for nurses, including nurse practitioners who are specialist in care for the elderly in hospitals and care homes.
Talent for the specialist areas of ICU, fertility nursing, and cardiac care is difficult to find, according to Cora Barnes, Managing Director of Three Q, an agency providing temporary staffing solutions and permanent recruitment services in Dublin.
Nursing is an area where hospitals are undertaking international trips to secure talent, Barnes says, even though this route is also becoming more challenging.
“The visa and adaptation process is costly, and changes in language requirements means that nurses from within the EU must now pass IELTS exams, a factor restricting the number of applicants”.
Similarly, home healthcare workers looking after people with disabilities, chronic illness and cognitive or age-related problems are very much in demand, also due to increasing life expectancy and the healthcare advances allowing people to live longer.
There is a similar increasing need for occupational therapists and physiotherapists, addressing healthcare and quality of life requirements.
The Three Q managing director confirms that hospitality and services sector companies are also struggling to find personnel; full-time, part-time and flexi roles. Most clients are bringing in staff from the EU and further afield, Cora Barnes says.
“Chef recruitment is a particular struggle, as chefs are moving into opportunities in sales, retail and management roles. Plus, the pipeline of those coming into chefing has declined. Many companies, including those in the hospitality sector, are developing graduate jobs and induction programmes, even funding college courses, to ensure they have access to talent.”
The extent of higher-education and growing numbers of graduates has undoubtedly helped grow Ireland’s economy and attracted the major multi-nationals, seeking a young educated workforce.
In the last two decades, an academic degree has certainly proved advantageous in the job market. However, the nature of third level qualifications is now more in focus than ever. STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) are proving most lucrative.
So too, continual learning has become a factor of many professional roles, such is the rapid change in the ways people work and the technology available to them.
However, some of the most in-demand jobs in the next decade are likely to relate to labour that may not demand tertiary education at all, or which leans towards vocational learning.
Full-time sales assistants, call-centre and customer support roles, and tradespersons are in short supply. Mechanics, welders, plumbers, electricians and construction workers are obviously needed in many different industries, and also work in the self-employed sector. Every building, whether residential, corporate or a public utility, requires construction and maintenance.
So, the advice to young people currently considering vocational degrees is that they are setting out on a sound career path.