Chefs and IT staff ‘can write their own pay cheques’ says jobs report

    Jobs are in demand across many top performing sectors in the north, a new report says

    IF you’re a software developer, chef, maintenance engineer or an accountant, you can virtually write your own pay cheque, such is the demand for your services, a jobs market report suggests.

    The latest monitor from recruitment website and Ulster Bank shows they were the most in-demand roles in the first quarter, with vacancy listings having risen by more than a third (36 per cent) over the last four years.

    IT has again trumped all competition and remains the most active sector in recruitment terms (it makes up 13 per cent of current jobs listings).

    But not far behind are jobs in key parts of the hospitality sectors, where there is a UK-wide chronic shortage of chefs and waiting staff.

    It’s generally acknowledged that this is a golden age for eating out, and never before has such a high quality of food been so widely available.

    Yet given the skills shortage in this area, the sector is staring into a recruitment black hole.

    Five out of the 32 employment categories on hit record highs last quarter, but not far behind in terms of listings were jobs in secretarial and admin, security, trade & general services, big data & analytics, marketing, social charity & not for profit, and HR.

    Sam McIlveen of said: “Our data indicates that some employment categories are performing well, companies are investing in business development and hiring staff for a wide range of roles. But the strong performance in the first quarter of 2019 does come with a caution.

    “There has been a steady rise in job listings and a number of highs recorded in recent months but given the current climate of uncertainty, it could prove a challenge to sustain this level of activity – interesting months lie ahead.

    “Northern Ireland is also particularly exposed in relation to both the UK and southern Ireland, so businesses will need clarity in order to effectively plan ahead for future recruitment needs.

    “Skills shortages are still an issue for some sectors currently and our research indicates that jobs in science and IT will increase even more over the next ten years so action needs to be taken now to provide the skilled workforce these jobs will require.

    “The marketplace is extremely competitive right now, so candidates are becoming more selective when looking for a good employer. Brexit again may also be a contributing factor making people more cautious when considering their next career move. We would be advising companies to continue to focus on how they are recruiting the right people in order to sustain business growth long-term.”

    Ulster Bank chief economist Richard Ramsey added: “2018 was a bumper year for Northern Ireland’s labour market, which was littered with a series of multi-year and record highs of the positive variety, and the overall total number of employee jobs has risen to 773,750.

    “The strengthening labour market was broad-based with the private sector and service sector posting all-time highs. Meanwhile construction and manufacturing employment hit their highest levels in eight and 15-years respectively.

    “But skills shortages also became increasingly evident within the Northern Ireland labour market in 2018. With the unemployment rate back at a record low, hiring and retaining staff remains a challenge.

    “Demand for both new and replacement staff remained strong in the first quarter, as exemplified in this latest report. But a rising number of vacancies includes churn within the labour market and doesn’t just represent new jobs. For example, a sector posting a large number of advertised posts could be a sector experiencing a high degree of staff turnover as opposed to a sector reporting significant employment growth.

    “There are already signs that the economy is cooling, with ongoing Brexit uncertainty acting as a major headwind. As a result, Northern Ireland’s recent eleven quarter run of record job numbers could come unstuck later this year.”