The Great Relocation: Workers go to regions

Rising property prices and rents and work from home guidance are seeing many people leave Dublin and move to the countryside.

Ireland is facing an undersupply of skilled and experienced candidates in the financial services sector and competition to attract talent is expected to be intense next year.

According to Matrix Recruitment, which published its Salary Guide for 2022, there was a 52% increase in jobs in accounting and finance in the first half of 2021 compared with the same period in 2020.

“With many sectors struggling to fill job vacancies, it’s very much a candidates’ market right now”

It anticipates further demand as we move into next year.

A candidates’ market

“The jobs market has grown significantly in the past year and while things can change quickly, largely driven by the pandemic, all indicators are that the recruitment market will remain dynamic as we move into 2022,” said Kieran McKeown, managing director of Matrix Recruitment.

“With many sectors struggling to fill job vacancies, it’s very much a candidates’ market right now. We know from our research that 43% of workers in Ireland are not happy in their jobs, so there has never been a better time to consider a new job or indeed, a new career.

“We are hearing a lot about ‘The Great Resignation’ with many people leaving their jobs in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, having rethought their career goals and this is a trend we see continuing into next year,” said Kieran McKeown who produces an annual Salary Guide that reviews salaries and recruitment for the current year, while forecasting trends for the coming year. 

While salaries for many financial roles are not expected to jump in 2022, certain areas can expect to see modest growth, especially in the capital. For 2022, senior/lead fund accountant (private equity), for example, can expect to command a salary of €45k – €58k (up 5% on 2021 figures).

Moving to the country

Business man in grey suit with arms folded outside a building saying Matrix Recruitment.

Kieran McKeown, managing director, Matrix Recruitment

“There is a widening of the talent pool in the Midlands, West and South and we are seeing marginal increases on salaries in these areas, particularly for roles in IT, engineering and accountancy”

In the regions, those working in the insurance sector will also see incremental increases in wages. Maximum salaries for claims managers will increase by 7% in 2022, from €65,000 a year to €70,000. Meanwhile, the maximum salary for a personal lines administrator working in the regions could increase by as much as 20%, according to the 2022 Matrix Recruitment Salary Guide.

The recruitment agency is also predicting double-digit growth in tech spending by financial services companies. In fact, investment in tech is expected across the board and with many businesses going digital, programming candidates are in demand, particularly those who are adept at the latest versions of JavaScript and other programming resources.

Remote work is also driving this demand as businesses seek out agile IT talent that can provide quick response remote desktop support. This demand has caused an increase in salaries for IT support roles across the country.

This isn’t the only way that remote work is influencing salaries and the recruitment firm has seen a rise in salaries for roles outside the greater Dublin area.

“Rising property prices, rents and the continuation of government advice to work from home is seeing many people leave Dublin and relocate to the countryside,” McKeown said.

“This means that there is a widening of the talent pool in the Midlands, West and South and we are seeing marginal increases on salaries in these areas, particularly for roles in IT, engineering and accountancy.”

Pharmaceuticals, public sector and healthcare

It will come as no surprise to learn that pharmaceuticals, medical devices and public sector roles were in high demand this year, topping Matrix Recruitment’s jobs database, followed closely by roles in healthcare.

Throughout 2021, there was significant growth in the pharmaceutical sector mainly due to company expansions, investments, and the ever-evolving Covid-19 vaccine journey. In the year ahead, Matrix Recruitment predicts a rise in cross-industry and cross-enterprise collaboration in areas such as research and development. This will result in candidates having to be open to contract work in the year ahead as they may be required to work on projects continuously.

Salaries will mainly be in keeping with 2021 salary predictions, but there might be some deviation, particularly for roles in quality. For example, in 2022, Matrix predicts a 10% increase in salaries for a QA/QC analyst in the greater Dublin, Midlands and West.

Manufacturing, food services and supply chain

There is a global boom underway in the manufacturing industry, which is driving growth in jobs right across Ireland. Demand for skilled workers is at an all-time high and the opportunities in manufacturing have never been greater.

With demand for skilled candidates in manufacturing on the rise, Matrix Recruitment is seeing a corresponding rise in remuneration packages.

For example, salaries at the upper end of the scale for plant managers in the Midlands, West and South of the country are expected to increase by as much as €30,000 next year. In the greater Dublin area, candidates could earn up to €40,000 more, according to Matrix Recruitment’s Salary Guide (versus the 2021 Salary Guide figures).

Supply chains remain under severe pressure due to Brexit-related customs checks, transport delays and raw materials shortages, meaning roles in this sector are more important than ever. However, Matrix does not expect companies to invest in talent next year and salaries will remain in keeping with 2021.

Instead, Matrix Recruitment predicts that companies will invest in advanced software such as data analytics, ERP, inventory management, CRM, and accounting software in a bid to keep up with customer expectations and demand.

According to the European Commission, the Irish economy will grow by 5.1% in 2022. In the past, the Irish foodservice industry has mirrored this growth as disposable income increases. Over the past year, however, this mirroring has been disrupted by the pandemic.

As we move into a new year, Matrix Recruitment is tentatively predicting growth for the sector. However, due to the lack of job security in the foodservices industry over the past two years, employers are finding it difficult to fill current job vacancies and this is expected to remain a challenge next year.

Permanent V contract

Recruiting today is radically different to a mere twelve months ago. At Matrix Recruitment, openings for permanent positions across all sectors fell by 41% for the period 2020-2021.

This is in contrast with contract roles which fell by just 10%. Matrix Recruitment data also shows that job seekers are now more open to contract work, due to the lucrative pay and flexibility it provides.  Some companies are offering attractive 12-month remuneration packages, particularly in areas such as automated processes and lean manufacturing, where demand for skilled candidates is high.

“There is a shortage of skilled candidates in many areas of the Irish workforce and while this creates its own challenges, it’s a good time for candidates to look around and see what other possibilities might be knocking.

“Over the past year, we’ve seen a rise in the number of candidates looking for added benefits when it comes to considering a job. It’s no longer just about the pay or the pension, and employers need to be willing to get creative in 2022 they want to attract and retain the best talent,” McKeown concluded.

John Kennedy
Award-winning editor John Kennedy is one of Ireland's most experienced business and technology journalists.