What's happening in the R&D and Design Engineering Market?

Stephen O'Brien 17.09.2015

As we come to the end of the third quarter it's the ideal time to share my insights and update on the engineering job market so far in 2015 in particular the R&D and design engineering space. What are the most popular roles in demand, what are candidates' expectations, what are the most recent trends in salary levels and what’s important to the client?

Most popular roles in demand

With renewed faith in the Irish market we are seeing a big investment in Ireland from the multinational companies in particular in the medical device and pharmaceutical sectors in research and development. Ireland remains at the cutting edge of the R&D of new devices and many companies are increasing the investment and identifying Ireland as their centres of excellence due to the high quality talent pool of engineers and also the steady stream of the top graduates. Ireland's graduates are ranked near the top globally for the most highly employable graduates and the medtech sector is benefiting from this flow of skilled graduates coming from by the universities and Institutes of Technology across the country. Other areas of growth are 3D design, component and equipment design engineers with smaller companies that are focused on servicing the big medical device and pharma multinationals.

Key trends 

  • High demand for multidisciplinary specialists such as experienced New Product Development, R&D and 3D Design Engineers with industry knowledge
  • Job content continued to be the key driver for engineering candidates wishing to change jobs, with sector experience and career development being their influencing factors
  • More and more engineers working abroad are now returning to Ireland as the engineering job market is a lot more buoyant.


Salary developments

Engineering remains a highly candidate driven sector and companies are willing to offer salary packages that match the increasingly high skills and experience required for particular roles. This was mainly the case for the large medtech and pharma multinationals companies who are looking for experienced engineers and need to attract this talent with larger salaries. The smaller companies hiring at the local level are not increasing the base salaries at the same speed but are successfully attracting new talent through a comprehensive set of fringe benefits, including healthcare, pension contributions and the opportunity to develop your career through sector exposure. Morgan McKinley has released its 2015 Salary Guide which details the average salaries of engineers with respect to their profession and location. This gives a great indication of how the growth of the sector over the past two years should have affected your bank balance and ultimately your career growth.

Companies’ expectations

The stand out factor for me in this space is the attention paid by hiring managers to get the right team fit. The current market suggests that it is not clear a like for like hires, instead for most roles the hiring managers priority rests with the right personality and attitude to empower their team, along with industry experience and 80% skills set match. This is good news for candidates who were in the past considered an “outside the box” fit for specific hires, in fact they are now getting these roles because they are taking the right approach and in some cases representation from the right recruitment consultant. Over the past 9 months hiring managers, HR and internal recruiters in the R&D and design space have stressed to me the importance of “a happy team is an efficient team, suitability and team fit is key”!!

With all this in mind my prediction is the R&D and design market will continue to go from strength to strength for the rest of the year with 2016 already shaping up to be very good. If you are hiring or thinking about your next role please contact Morgan McKinley for some more insights.

Stephen O'Brien's picture


We are currently seeking an experienced Project Manager capable of leading multiple teams and projects
Design Evaluation Engineer - Limerick
Design Assurance Engineer