Spring 2019 Ireland Employment Monitor: Recruitment & Retention are Key Issues

Trayc Keevans 15.04.2019

Q1 2019 Professional Job Vacancies up by 9.4%

The number of professional job vacancies available in Ireland in the first part of the year increased by 9.4%, compared sequentially to Q4 2018, according to the Morgan McKinley Ireland Quarterly Employment Monitor, which measures the pulse of the Irish professional jobs market.

Underpinning this positive trend, the year-on-year comparison shows that there was a 14.4% increase in professional jobs coming to market in Q1 2019 compared to the same quarter last year.

Access to talent remains an ongoing issue for a number of sectors. There was an increase of 17.1% in the number of professionals seeking new roles in the first three months of 2019, compared with the last quarter of 2018. 

The Morgan McKinley monitor also recorded an overall decrease of 4.9% in the number of professionals actively seeking new job opportunities compared to the same time a year ago, reflecting current economic conditions and the fact that Ireland is moving closer to full employment.

Q1 Employment Trends

Current most in-demand positions:

  • Engineering: Automation Engineer, Manufacturing Engineer, Process Engineer,  and Project Manager
  • Technology: Software Developer, UX Designer, Solutions Architect,  Data Scientist, Security Engineer
  • Financial Services: Head of Compliance & MLRO, Regulatory Compliance Manager, Investment Risk Analyst,  Private Equity Officer, Real Estate Fund Accountants, Credit Analyst, Market Risk Manager, AML Manager, Product Manager
  • Science:  Regulatory Affairs Specialist, Qualified Person (QP), QC Analyst
  • Senior Sales: Business Development Representative (SaaS), Inside Sales Manager, Multilingual Inside Sales Representatives, Business Development Manager, Technical Sales Manager, Medical Sales Specialist 
  • Marketing: Marketing Executive, Digital Marketing Executive, MarComms Manager, Assistant Brand Manager, Brand Manager, Communications Manager, HR: Total Rewards Analyst, HR Specialist( in the areas of wellness and engagement.
  • Office Support: Niche roles such as IT Audit Administrator, Training Administrator

Professional Job Stats (Q1 2019 v's Q1 2018)

Professional Jobs


Trayc Keevans, Global FDI Director, Morgan McKinley Ireland, said:

Employment Backdrop – Quarter 1 2019

Ireland’s employment market began 2019 with dual announcements from state agencies IDA Ireland and Enterprise Ireland of record job creation in 2018. IDA Ireland recorded the largest regional employment growth with their client companies in 17 years and created 22,785 new jobs throughout 2018. Similarly Enterprise Ireland recorded an impressive 4.4% year on year uplift in new jobs created over 2018 to 18,846, with 60% of the new jobs created outside of Dublin. At the beginning of the quarter the country’s unemployment rate was at 5.7% but as these new opportunities continued to come to market over the next three months, this dropped to an 11 year record low of 5.4% as at the end of March 2019.

Innovation and Transformation

Over the last quarter, we have seen more indigenous employers hiring digital marketing executives, Project Managers and HR experts with culture transformation expertise as they deploy new technologies symbolic of an execution of their digital transformation strategies.
The rapid pace of innovation and transformation has been most pronounced in the Financial Services Sector where there has been very strong demand for data scientists, product managers and software engineers for niche FinTech operations.


The Central Bank of Ireland announced half way through the quarter that it had processed more than half of the 100 applications from Financial Services Companies that wanted to set up new or expand existing operations in Ireland as a consequence of Brexit. It is no surprise therefore that demand for seasoned and senior regulatory and compliance professionals continued unabated with the market challenged to keep up with demand as these positions represent the key initial hires for any new regulated entity setting up in Ireland.  AML and experienced MLRO professionals were at the forefront of hiring within Asset and Investment Management firms. On the overall, we are continuing to see EU and non-EU professionals relocating to Ireland to support their career ambitions in an English speaking environment.


The technology market is highly challenging at present, with more professionals choosing contract roles due to lucrative rates and the ability to work on a range of interesting projects. In response, we are seeing technology companies pulling out all the stops to differentiate themselves from competitors by investing heavily in retention strategies and activating new initiatives. This includes offering employees significant time to work on personal innovation projects which may benefit some companies in the long run.


Employers are finding it increasingly challenging to retain staff in the engineering sector and particularly in automation, manufacturing, process and project management. This is mainly due to recruitment demand across the industry to support organic growth, new product introduction and relocation of product lines from other locations globally.

The most in demand positions in engineering include Mechanical Designers or Electro-Mechanical

Design Engineers. Mechanical Design and R&D Departments are having significant success in terms of employee retention mainly due to the exciting and innovative products and projects on offer.
In the pharmaceutical and manufacturing industries, we are seeing an increased demand for data serialisation professionals to support new legislation and compliance requirements.

Employment Permit Reforms

Against a backdrop of global skills shortages, there were a number of welcome additions made by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation as part of their bi-annual review, to those professions who will now qualify for the Critical Skills Employment Permits. These include civil engineers, quantity surveyors and construction project managers. Furthermore, there was a reform in the treatment of spouses of highly skilled non EEA immigrants here, allowing them immediate access to the labour market. Both actions will continue to support the growth and retention of our highly skilled international talent pool at a time when the market demands it most.

Trayc Keevans's picture
Global FDI Director