Which careers will see salary growth in 2024?

The ‘great resignation’ becomes the ‘big stay’ in 2024 as just 36% of professionals consider exploring new job opportunities.

Generally salaries are set to remain flat in Ireland in 2024, except for a number of career areas that will see growth.

Morgan McKinley, the Irish-owned global talent services company, anticipates that salaries in most professional areas will see little to no significant change into 2024, closely mirroring an expected inflation rate of around 3%, following also from significant pay increases in recent years.

“We are witnessing a shift towards more cautious decision-making, particularly as professionals assess the job market amidst ongoing economic uncertainties”

Nevertheless, there will be notable deviations from this trend in specialised positions and industries facing skills shortages. In these sectors, professionals with significantly in-demand skills could potentially expect salary increases of up to 15%, underscoring the strong competition organisations will encounter as they seek to attract top talent in these areas.

Where salaries will grow in 2024

In accounting and finance, senior professionals can expect their salaries to remain relatively stable, primarily owing to the limited availability of job openings and reduced competitive pressure. Conversely, individuals within the range of Newly Qualified to three years PQE can look forward to increased compensation, driven by a talent deficit exacerbated by emigration. These patterns are expected to persist into 2024.

There will be more of a focus on hiring professionals with strong transversal skills with an emphasis on stakeholder management as navigating a hybrid working environment continues. Additionally, those accounting and finance professionals skilled in Big Data analytics, data management and Big Data reporting will be in highest demand in 2024 as transactional work will continue to become automated.

Accountants will play a wider role in developing and implementing ESG reporting strategies and we expect to see greater demand for accountants for ESG reporting through 2024.

In banking and financial services, salaries within the sector have remained stable due to the reduction in available positions, which has lessened the competitive hiring landscape. This change implies that job seekers may need to reassess their salary expectations when seeking new opportunities.

The technology market witnessed a temporary softening in the middle of 2023, which led to a scarcity of roles. However, there was an overall increase in contract opportunities as organisations adopted a cautious yet optimistic approach. The sentiment among organisations is generally positive, with signs that hiring momentum is on the horizon in 2024.

The market indicates there will be a persistent need for cybersecurity professionals, particularly as the deadline for Member States to comply with the updated NIS 2 Directive approaches in October 2024. The demand for cybersecurity experts is rising, leading to a rapid expansion in the talent pool, which has grown by 35% year on year.

In 2023, tech salaries in Ireland saw modest increases, impacted by inflation and a talent shortage, resulting in a supply and demand effect. Counteroffers became more common, with employers offering top-performing professionals salary hikes of 15-20% to retain them. For 2024, salary increases are expected to stabilise in most fields as tech talent increasingly shows a willingness to accept reduced pay in exchange for fully remote work options. It’s worth noting that the technology sector remains the most open to remote work among employers.

In the legal sector there’s optimism for improved economic conditions and more flexible budget constraints, potentially leading to increased hiring. However, it is expected that salaries will remain unchanged, as post-COVID raises have already been incorporated into compensation packages.

In Life Sciences, skills shortages, particularly in automation, have posed hiring challenges. Electrical engineers have seen substantial salary increases (10%) due to their scarcity in the market. Salaries for construction professionals are expected to remain high in 2024 due to ongoing skills shortages, creating significant opportunities for recent graduates. For instance, newly qualified CAD designers could command €28k, fresh civil engineering graduates may secure €36k, and inexperienced Quantity Surveyors could earn a €40k salary. These graduate salaries are competing very favourably with other sectors which typically dictated the higher end of earning potential for new graduate salaries such as technology and investment management within financial services.

While salaries in supply chain and procurement experienced an initial increase in early 2023, the evolving market dynamics resulted in stabilised rates. Professionals with niche expertise can still command salary increases when changing roles, but overall, salaries are predicted to be flat through 2024.

It is anticipated that permanent business support salaries are unlikely to see significant changes in 2024. However, temporary and contract professionals may command higher hourly/ daily rates. This shift is driven by organisations showing more flexibility and offering competitive rates to attract short-term talent.

The demands for hiring Executives in the new post pandemic world has expanded immeasurably, with C-Suite professionals now being hired for growth against a backdrop of digital transformation, agenda to strike a DEI balance and a requirement for a track record in leading remote teams. All of this coupled with an organisational need to be sustainable and profitable. 

Salaries for HR professionals remained relatively stable, and this trend is anticipated to continue in 2024.

Salary increases are the primary motivators for project and change professionals to change employers. While daily rates for Mid to Senior-level Project Managers and Business Analysts remained stable in 2023, transformation roles experienced salary boosts, a trend likely to continue into 2024.

In sales and marketing, brand Managers with skills in design, social media marketing, digital marketing, content marketing, and market research will continue to be sought after in 2024. Content strategists are also expected to see increased demand as they help drive inbound traffic and foster customer loyalty, contributing to organisational growth. Value-based hiring will be a key consideration for all marketing hires in 2024.

The flat and the furious

“The professional job market in Ireland faced significant challenges in 2023, characterised by fierce competition, talent migration, rising salaries, evolving job seeker dynamics, skills shortages, changing work preferences, and a growing emphasis on transversal skills,” said Trayc Keevans, Global FDI director, Morgan McKinley Ireland.

“Morgan McKinley’s Global Hiring Realities Survey, conducted across eight global locations, including Ireland, Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and the UK, highlighted the intense competition in the job market. A staggering 80% of Irish organisations encountered hiring challenges in 2023, creating difficulties in retaining existing employees. A remarkable 72% of Irish employers admitted losing staff within the past six months, mainly due to struggles in competing with pay and benefits offered by competitors and unmet employee expectations regarding more flexible working arrangements.

“The loss of staff occurred despite 44% of Irish employers increasing salaries within their organisations over the past six months. Ireland stood out as second only to the UK in terms of salary increases. In addition, 71% of surveyed employers provided some form of company bonus in 2023, with only China and Singapore reporting higher percentages in this regard. The survey also revealed that 69% of hiring managers plan to raise salary offers for specific hard-to-fill roles in 2024.

“Skills shortages have been a significant challenge, with 40% of employers struggling to find candidates with the right skills for their job openings. To address this, organisations are rethinking their hiring strategies and exploring alternative methods for identifying and nurturing required talent. Close to 80% of employers believe that offering flexible working arrangements is the most effective strategy for attracting new talent, a sentiment shared with Canada. This is closely followed by the significance of providing career advancement prospects, offering competitive salaries, and evaluating prospective employees based on their potential rather than solely their experience.

“In 2023, the hybrid working model remained prevalent. However, over a quarter of employers acknowledged losing out on potential hires due to their inability to meet remote and hybrid work expectations. 42% of employers are now encouraging their employees in Ireland to return to the office more frequently. The main motivations behind this shift include enhancing employee collaboration, strengthening company culture, and boosting overall performance. Only 8% of employees expressed a desire to work in the office five days a week. In contrast, 50% of surveyed Irish employees are open to accepting a reduced salary in exchange for the work flexibility they desire.

“As we look ahead to the next year, the salary landscape for most professional fields appears set to remain stable, tracking closely with an estimated inflation rate of around 3%. However, it’s important to recognise that this status quo will not apply across all professional jobs. In certain niche positions and industries facing severe skills shortages, we can expect notable deviations from this standard. These sectors will diverge from the broader trend, presenting more pronounced salary increases of up to 15% for professionals with highly sought-after skills, primarily in pockets of Technology, Engineering, Construction, Life Sciences, and Financial Services sectors.

“Furthermore, we’re observing a notable shift in the job-seeking behaviour of Irish professionals, indicating that the ‘Great Resignation’, a term coined to describe the surge in employees leaving their jobs, may be subsiding. Our research reveals that only 36% of professionals surveyed are planning to actively explore new employment opportunities within the next six months. This marks a 17% decline from the previous year, reflecting a change in the mindset of professionals. We are witnessing a shift towards more cautious decision-making, particularly as professionals assess the job market amidst ongoing economic uncertainties.

“We anticipate that employers’ focus for hiring in 2024 will be two-fold. Companies will continue to adopt a discerning approach to recruitment, carefully assessing the necessity of each replacement before making hiring decisions and ensuring that such hires are productive and add value to the bottom line. Secondly, we expect leaders to concentrate on retaining their talent and matching the expectations of their employees around flexible working practices, career advancement opportunities, and a supportive company culture,” Keevans said.

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