NORTHERN Ireland’s jobs machine “has been firing on all cylinders” in the last three months, with recruitment and continued inward investment in a number of key skilled sectors boosting the labour market.
Vacancies are up 11 per cent on the same time a year ago, and in June alone there were more than 1,000 corporate jobs advertised on recruitment website NIJobs.com, which has produced the latest jobs report in association with Ulster Bank.
But with the region running at virtually full employment, skill shortages continue to be a threat in a number of key sectors.
The latest quarterly reports, which tracks jobs advertised online, also reveals that overall job listings have hit an all-time high and have risen by almost a quarter in the last three years further bolstering the latest official labour statistics.
IT leads the way, with one in nine of all current job listings in that sector. Indeed IT, with engineering and accountancy and finance, account for a quarter of all jobs
NIJobs.com head Sam McIlveen said: “The quarterly report is a good indicator of recruitment trends and reveals the buoyancy of the current job market.
“IT continues to experience sustained growth with increases quarter-on-quarter of 20 per cent and year-on-year of 43 per cent. Global businesses such as Allstate, Capita and Cayan are recruiting heavily right now, with software developers and software engineers in particularly high demand.
“Other top performers this quarter include engineering (up 18 per cent on last year), production manufacturing and materials (up 19 per cent), banking & Finance (up 25 per cent) and social and not-for-profit (up 63 per cent), while Belfast and Derry have also performed well year-on-year, which again supports an increase in long-term investment in both hubs.”
Ulster Bank’s regional chief economist Richard Ramsey said: “The incoming labour market statistics continue to chalk up record highs and positive lows in a variety of areas. Unemployment hit a record low in the first quarter of the year while more people are working than ever before.
“These figures are positive news for the economy, indicating a broad-based demand for labour with eight categories posting their highest number of quarterly vacancies to date.
“High numbers of IT vacancies are no surprise given the range of big announcements from both indigenous companies and inward investors. Similarly, manufacturing and engineering firms are capitalising on strong global demand as they export with gusto and are having to expand their workforces.
“However, whilst the figures highlight the positive aspect of the labour market at present, they also allude to some of the significant challenges, notably skills shortages.
“The reality is that a job listing doesn’t necessarily mean a new job created and we know that there is a significant amount of churn in some sectors, particularly the IT industry, due to the intense competition for talent.
“There is no doubt that the sector is set for a sustained period of robust jobs growth, but companies will have their work cut out finding and retaining the skills.
“As the jobs machine churns out new openings, we also need a conveyor belt of skilled graduates and non-graduates to ensure supply meets the demand.
“Other sectors such as hospitality and food processing have intense skills challenges as well – issues that are being compounded by a reduction in the availability of workers from the EU.”