More machines, less people. More machines, not enough people to control them.

Barry Bowen 08.11.2018

The current situation for hiring skilled workers is difficult because there’s an imbalance between supply and demand

The growing concern for a number of our manufacturing clients in Q4 of 2018 is the severe shortage of automation engineers and technicians with the relevant skill set and experience not only in Cork, Limerick, Galway and Dublin but throughout the whole island both North and South. A number of companies have tried to reduce labour costs through automation however now more than ever they need employees who have competencies which are more specialised in automation management.

The Critical Skills Employment Permit situation in Ireland is becoming just that for the Automation industry...critical. With backlogs of up to 12 weeks to process new permits companies are becoming increasingly frustrated as they aim to compete with neighbouring companies to attract available talent that’s out there. Automation engineers are not on the market for long and very often the whole process from CV application to job offer can take as little as a  working week such is the demand and the necessary need for hiring managers to act fast.

At the recent Toys 4 Engineers hosted jointly by the Waterford Chamber and Waterford Institute of Technology it was great to see an obvious showcase of some of the talent and innovation companies present in Ireland with a number of companies displaying the latest technologies available to manufacturing companies. Companies present on the day included SMC and Horan Automation who both attracted large interest due to their interactive displays. As the delegates attending the event were largely made up of second and third level students this was a clever initiative by the companies present to promote their industry with a view to instilling a genuine interest in the engineers of the future.

Due to successful initiatives such as the Springboard+ programme, people with a genuine interest in Automation are able to avail of courses such as a Certificate in Industrial Instrumentation and Automation. Such initiatives are key as the demand is only going to grow. Since 2013 the salary expectations for those with 3-5 years experience has grown by 23% and an increasing number of engineers with more than 5 years experience can expect to find roles advertised with basic salaries of anywhere between €50,000 & €60,000. See Morgan McKinley's 2018 engineering salary guide here

Pharmaceutical and Medical Device companies have in recent months realised that the search for top engineers will need to be broadened and some of these biotech companies will consider candidates coming from other FMCG in (Fast-Moving Consumer Goods) companies, the semi-conductor and even food industries. 

The most sought after systems include Allen Bradley, Delta V and Siemens. As pretty much every company has become reliant on IOT quite a few roles and responsibilities have been allocated to engineering companies overseas, particularly outside the EU, however the preference for many is to have as many automation experts on site in order to identify how manufacturing processes can be improved

Morgan McKinley have two consultants specialising in Automation Engineering roles throughout Ireland in both permanent and contract. You can see some of our current roles available here.   

Barry Bowen's picture
Team Leader


Mechanical Design Engineer - Louth
12-Month Contract - Hourly Rate - Top 5 Med-Device - Cork - €35+ per hour
Fantastic Opportunity to join an excellent company as a Senior Automation Project Engineer