Job creation and employment growth to continue in 2017

Aldagh McDonogh 12.01.2017

Morgan McKinley 2017 Irish Salary Guide

See 2017 Salary Guide here.

The Morgan McKinley 2017 Irish Salary Guide - Ireland’s most comprehensive analysis of pay across a range of professions and sectors – forecasts that the total number of people in employment will continue to grow in 2017, albeit at a slower pace, with the potential for average salary increases of 5% - 10% for critical skills positions and a creative and holistic approach to total compensation packages to continue to attract and retain professional talent.

The guide includes detailed tables outlining the projected 2017 salary scales for a wide range of professional disciplines from entry level through to senior executive levels across a wide range of sectors.

Morgan McKinley is the leading Irish owned global professional services recruitment consultancy operating across multiple industries and disciplines.

2016 saw a strong performance for the Irish economy with GDP growth increasing and the unemployment rate decreasing to 7.3% during the year, its lowest level in eight years. These positive indicators resulted in strong upward trends in domestic consumption and general investment, which did slow in the second half of the year due to the unanticipated outcomes of Brexit and the US presidential election.

Karen O’Flaherty, Chief Operations Officer of Morgan McKinley said: 

“Total employment in Ireland is at its highest level since 2008. Forecasting is difficult given uncertainty around Brexit and potential implications for the Irish economy including a reduction in the predicted growth rate of GDP to 3.4% (down from 3.9% pre-Brexit). FDI employment demand is currently strong and tracking ahead of the Horizon 2020 employment creation targets set and it remains to be seen if there will be positive or negative impacts on FDI flows arising from Brexit and from changes in the US administration. However we firmly believe that Ireland’s talent base and supportive infrastructure remain very attractive to inward investment.”

“Approximately 30% of all employment is in sectors that are heavily related to UK exports - particularly SMEs in the agrifood and tourism sectors. Given the increased prominence of a hard Brexit scenario, any negative shock to export demand in the future would flow through the economy with potential implications for the labour market and employment.”


Notable Trends

  • Salaries – Potential salary increases in 2017 will range from 5% - 10% in areas of high skill demand, most notably ICT, Science, Engineering, Accounting and Financial Services.


2016 saw several high profile disputes centering on wage claims, primarily in the public sector.  To many extents, Ireland is a price taker in global markets where the competitiveness of our internationally tradable outputs is essential to economic growth.  Changes in the non-traded sector of the economy can have significant implications for the traded sector, placing additional pressure on private sector salary inflation. 

Maintaining a balance between appropriate reward structures and overall national cost competitiveness is essential to ensure that economic recovery and renewal continues.

  • Talent - the most in demand talent will continue to be in the Pharmaceutical, Financial Services and IT sectors. Growth in demand for ‘hybrid talent’ in the FinTech space is being driven by new FinTech companies and the innovation labs of large banks and consultancies.  The most sought after professionals in IT will have Big Data, Java Developer and Cybersecurity expertise.
  • Reward Strategies - Career mobility is increasing among the Irish workforce and attrition has become a factor for all companies. Employers increasingly need to focus on the qualitative aspects of working life, including continuous professional development, defined career paths, flexible working and enhanced reward and remuneration programmes.
  • FDI –  Ireland ranked as the number 1 destination for high value FDI projects for the fourth successive year in IBM’s Global Locations Trends report in 2016 and 7th of 61 countries in the IMD World Competitiveness Yearbook. 

Financial services players with dual operations in the UK and in Ireland are likely to build bigger teams in Ireland to underpin their EU presence as well as the potential of further relocation of industry operations and new direct investments. FDI sectoral employment remains strong with ICT, Engineering, Science, Data Analytics and Business skills in most demand.

  • Returning Emigrants / Immigration – Ireland continues to attract returning emigrants from Europe, the UK, Australia and US, across a range of industries, with immigration of skilled professionals now also a necessary factor and particularly in the multinational sector. In 2016, net inward migration overtook net outward migration for the first time since 2009. Recent FDI investments in the regions outside of Dublin are also supporting this trend.
  • Construction - Growth in the building and construction sector will be significant in 2017 as commercial and housing markets react to increased demand. The Construction Industry Federation is predicting sector growth of 9% between now and 2020 and is targeting skilled workers abroad to fill 112,000 vacancies in the process. There will be a strong increase in hiring across all levels of the construction, supply chain, engineering, legal and conveyancing professions.
  • Gender – While there are positive trends being seen in gender quotas across many sectors (including science, engineering and technology), research for Morgan McKinley in 2016 identified an average earnings gap of 20% between men and women in professional jobs. 

The ‘pay gap’ which represents a global rather than Ireland only trend is however a demotivating influencing factor on the potential for women to enter careers in important sectors of the economy. This is an anomaly particularly where there are skills shortages that could be addressed through the continuing promotion of gender diversity and pay transparency.

Sectoral Notes – please see the tables in the guide for likely 2017 salary levels.

Accountancy & Finance

  • This is a buoyant sector and there is a notable uplift in hiring with significant competition for experienced qualified and newly graduated professionals on a wide basis across accountancy practices, multinationals, SMEs and start-ups including Fintech.
  • Candidates are being sought for roles in audit, compliance, shared services and commercial roles in financial services and in general business categories.
  • Salary levels are being pitched very competitively and a moderate uplift is expected in 2017.


Banking & Stockbroking

  • Permanent opportunities were in high demand in retail banking in 2016 and candidates were receiving multiple offers and counter offers, which presented challenges for organisations.  
  • In Retail Banking, there is strong demand for qualified candidates with the APA or QFA qualification.
  • Demand remains strong in restructuring and arrears with a significant increase in demand for financial advisors, new business underwriters, credit analysts and relationship managers.
  • The necessity of linking finance and technology is expected to have effects on job design and will likely be a focus for Irish banks in 2017.


Financial Services and Treasury

  • In 2016, banks and investment management companies focused their recruitment needs on positions that specialise in reporting regulations and capital regulations as a result of strict guidelines from the Central Bank to improve efficiency in these areas. 
  • 2016 also saw the continued growth of the aircraft leasing sector, where many companies have put a focus on recruiting newly qualified accountants. 
  • Job offers for newly qualified accountants have never been more competitive. In some cases newly qualified accountants are seeking minimum starting salaries of €55k & benefits.  



  • There is increased demand for fund accountants across all levels and in particular those with specialist skills in private equity or hedge / hybrid fund experience and this will continue in 2017 where 40% of the world’s hedge funds are now administered in Ireland.
  • Organisations are seeking specialist expertise in various asset classes where leading funds and asset management companies are building specialist units to accommodate the changing regulatory landscape.
  • Specialist areas will drive salary levels with a slight increase likely due to an influx of more specialist investment management companies and fund administrators, with demand for experienced candidates in data governance, compliance, regulatory reporting and middle office.
  • Candidates are increasingly interested in companies that provide good work / life balance, including fixed term, part time or contract work in the fund accounting area. 



  • The Insurance market has seen modest improvements and the outlook is positive for 2017.
  • Qualified and part-qualified actuaries remain in high demand and there is also strong demand for experienced underwriters, brokers and claims handlers including those with complex and litigated claims experience.
  • In the life assurance market there has been a significant increase in demand for pension administrators and consultants with experience in either DB or DC schemes.
  •  Home and motor insurance companies continue to need qualified sales agents (APA, CIP).
  • The cross-border life insurance market is buoyant - some of Europe’s largest companies see Dublin as an international hub with demand for qualified candidates and multilingual skills.



  • Demand for software developers shows no sign of slowing down, with strong demand in particular for .Net developers, system administrators and project managers. 
  • The second half of 2016 saw hiring activity slow down slightly, particularly with MNCs. There was a decrease in the number of roles in the IT support function, although demand for software development professionals continued to go from strength to strength. 
  • The most in demand skills in 2016 were in Java, .Net, Full Stack developers as well as a strong demand for software testers. 
  • Over the past 12 months salaries have increased across the majority of areas particularly in the development space. 
  • On the contracting side, short and fixed term hires in IT have been slightly lower in the past year, with a number of employers shifting towards hiring permanent staff.



  • There is a continuing drive for talent in the large law firms and there is also no sign of any slowdown in the number of in-house legal positions in various sectors as a greater number of lawyers are moving in-house.
  • There are openings in corporate law, commercial property,  banking and financial services, funds management, aviation and aircraft leasing.  Skills and experience in high demand include data protection, compliance and company secretarial.
  • Legal & Compliance is a growing area for companies as regulatory frameworks become more complex across several sectors including pharma, tech and financial services.
  • Salaries will level out moderately in line with a levelling of post-recession increases.


Life Sciences

  • Salaries will remain competitive going into 2017. Demand for science skills is strong across pharmaceuticals, medical devices and diagnostics with most demand across disciplines including Quality Control (QC), Quality Assurance (QA), Microbiology, Regulatory Affairs. 
  • Graduates in science, Biotechnology, Analytical Chemistry and Microbiology are highly sought after.
  • Demand is gradually increasing candidates with skills in biologics (genetically-engineered proteins derived from human genes). This reflects buoyant FDI, new start-ups and pharmaceutical companies moving into the biologics space.
  • The science jobs market continues to be very heavily based around contract positions where demand reflects new projects and product lines that companies are launching.



  • There is continuing demand from companies who run their European or global operations out of Ireland, including MNCs who have set up their EMEA HQ here, as well as startup tech businesses. Growth sectors include ICT, online retail, social media and outsourcing.
  • There is a continued high demand for German, Dutch and Nordic speakers.
  • Most in demand roles include sales and business development particularly in SaaS sales with a focus on new business, customer service and technical support.
  • Salaries have remained steady overall with a slight increase seen in software sales and more senior or specialist roles for in-demand languages.  


Office Support

  • There has been a steady increase in permanent roles nationally as companies are more confident in making hiring decisions compared to previous years.
  • 2016 saw high demand for experienced executive assistants, office managers and sales administrators in professional services, FMCG, pharmaceutical and startups.  
  • Companies will continue to seek professionals who are multi skilled and adaptable with strong systems and similar industry experience.
  • There is increased demand for experienced legal secretaries, particularly in corporate, banking, property and litigation.


Project & Change Management

  • Recruitment activity for project managers, business analysts and PMOs (Project Management Offices) has been steady with strong demand coming from consulting houses, industry and financial services groups to include retail banking, international banks, funds houses and insurance companies.
  • Preferred candidates come from a relevant industry background, have proven project experience and have been responsible for significant budgets. 
  • Having the project management qualification is a distinct advantage to candidates (i.e. PMP, Prince2) and a prerequisite for the majority of project roles. 


Sales & Marketing

  • Recruitment throughout 2016 was most active in the Dublin area, with many new roles emerging across brand management, channel marketing, communications, advertising and in particular digital and online marketing.
  • Blended skill sets, combining creativity and analytical competence, in particular the ability to use big data to segment markets effectively for campaign activity, are in high demand.
  • Interest has also emerged for Customer Experience (CX) managers with e-commerce experience.
  • There has been an upswing in recruitment  as organisations expand lean sales teams particularly in Telco, FMCG and IT sectors. The continued growth of EMEA sales hubs in Dublin has driven strong demand for sales specialists with a European language. 
  • Salaries in 2017 will remain steady with some increases depending on the skill sets and experience required.  


Supply Chain

  • A large number of multinationals have global procurement functions based in Ireland which contributes to the overall buoyancy of recruitment in the supply chain sector. As a result, applicants have an increasing choice of roles to match their skills and experience.
  • Global mobility is now becoming the norm including roles with 40-50% travel, so those with a high level of flexibility are in demand while on the employer side there is a strong focus on work/life balance including options to work from home.
  • There is an increased demand for technical skill-sets including those in vendor / supplier / CMO (Contract Manufacturing Organisation) management.



  • This will remain a candidate driven market in 2017 with an increase in demand across all areas of tax (practice and industry) from global mobility and employment tax to VAT, corporate tax and personal tax.
  • The surge in tax recruitment also stems from growing pressures on in-house tax functions as a result of changes in domestic and international tax policy, e.g., the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base (CCCTB) and Country by Country Reporting (CbCR) require expert input whether from in-house tax teams or from third party advisors.
  • For accounting and law firms (from Big 4/Top 5 to smaller tax firms), the growth of tax teams, the search for talent and the struggle to retain experienced professionals means great opportunities exist for tax professionals who wish to progress in practice.
  • Companies will need to increase salary levels by 5-10% in 2017 in order to retain existing staff and to attract new talent.




Notes to editors:

Survey methodology
Morgan McKinley compiled this guide with the support of data gathered by their Inward Investment team from a sample of more than 40,000 professionals placed in 2016 in Ireland. Additionally trends, market intelligence and market sentiment were obtained from a large cross section of employers. This research, combined with the publication of our monthly employment monitor, has allowed us to predict current and future skills and talent requirements and to obtain benchmarking analysis for professionals seeking new roles and hiring companies alike. Evidence points to a strong employment market in 2017 across a wide range of industries, sectors and locations in both the permanent and contract recruitment market. 

About Morgan McKinley in Ireland
Irish owned Morgan McKinley is a global professional recruitment consultancy connecting specialist talent with leading employers across multiple industries and disciplines.
With offices across Ireland, the UK, EMEA, Asia and Australia, its professional recruitment expertise spans the accounting & finance, financial services, technical and IT sectors. Morgan McKinley is a preferred supplier to most of the major employers in its specialist sectors and thousands of smaller local firms.

In 2016, Morgan McKinley was recognised as one of the top 5 Best Workplaces in Ireland in the Great Place to Work Awards. The company was also a winners of the Irish Institute of Training and Development Awards for Best L&D Organisation and came number 6 globally on LinkedIn’s list of the Most Socially Engaged Staffing Agencies.


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