The ‘great resignation’ becomes the ‘big stay’ in 2024 as just 36% of professionals consider exploring new job opportunities
The Morgan McKinley 2024 Irish Salary Guide – Ireland’s most comprehensive analysis of current pay across a range of professions and sectors – has been published.
Morgan McKinley, the Irish-owned global talent services company, anticipates that salaries in most professional areas will see little to no significant change into 2024, closely mirroring an expected inflation rate of around 3%, following also from significant pay increases in recent years.
Nevertheless, there will be notable deviations from this trend in specialised positions and industries facing skills shortages. In these sectors, professionals with significantly in-demand skills could potentially expect salary increases of up to 15%, underscoring the strong competition organisations will encounter as they seek to attract top talent in these areas.
Detailed commentary follows below including key sectoral considerations and currently most in-demand skills/ roles:
Trayc Keevans, Global FDI Director, Morgan McKinley Ireland, said:
“The professional job market in Ireland faced significant challenges in 2023, characterised by fierce competition, talent migration, rising salaries, evolving job seeker dynamics, skills shortages, changing work preferences, and a growing emphasis on transversal skills.
“Morgan McKinley’s Global Hiring Realities Survey, conducted across eight global locations, including Ireland, Australia, Canada, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore, and the UK, highlighted the intense competition in the job market. A staggering 80% of Irish organisations encountered hiring challenges in 2023, creating difficulties in retaining existing employees. A remarkable 72% of Irish employers admitted losing staff within the past six months, mainly due to struggles in competing with pay and benefits offered by competitors and unmet employee expectations regarding more flexible working arrangements.
“The loss of staff occurred despite 44% of Irish employers increasing salaries within their organisations over the past six months. Ireland stood out as second only to the UK in terms of salary increases. In addition, 71% of surveyed employers provided some form of company bonus in 2023, with only China and Singapore reporting higher percentages in this regard. The survey also revealed that 69% of hiring managers plan to raise salary offers for specific hard-to-fill roles in 2024.
“Skills shortages have been a significant challenge, with 40% of employers struggling to find candidates with the right skills for their job openings. To address this, organisations are rethinking their hiring strategies and exploring alternative methods for identifying and nurturing required talent. Close to 80% of employers believe that offering flexible working arrangements is the most effective strategy for attracting new talent, a sentiment shared with Canada. This is closely followed by the significance of providing career advancement prospects, offering competitive salaries, and evaluating prospective employees based on their potential rather than solely their experience.
“In 2023, the hybrid working model remained prevalent. However, over a quarter of employers acknowledged losing out on potential hires due to their inability to meet remote and hybrid work expectations. 42% of employers are now encouraging their employees in Ireland to return to the office more frequently. The main motivations behind this shift include enhancing employee collaboration, strengthening company culture, and boosting overall performance. Only 8% of employees expressed a desire to work in the office five days a week. In contrast, 50% of surveyed Irish employees are open to accepting a reduced salary in exchange for the work flexibility they desire.
“As we look ahead to the next year, the salary landscape for most professional fields appears set to remain stable, tracking closely with an estimated inflation rate of around 3%. However, it’s important to recognise that this status quo will not apply across all professional jobs. In certain niche positions and industries facing severe skills shortages, we can expect notable deviations from this standard. These sectors will diverge from the broader trend, presenting more pronounced salary increases of up to 15% for professionals with highly sought-after skills, primarily in pockets of Technology, Engineering, Construction, Life Sciences, and Financial Services sectors.
“Furthermore, we’re observing a notable shift in the job-seeking behaviour of Irish professionals, indicating that the ‘Great Resignation’, a term coined to describe the surge in employees leaving their jobs, may be subsiding. Our research reveals that only 36% of professionals surveyed are planning to actively explore new employment opportunities within the next six months. This marks a 17% decline from the previous year, reflecting a change in the mindset of professionals. We are witnessing a shift towards more cautious decision-making, particularly as professionals assess the job market amidst ongoing economic uncertainties.
“We anticipate that employers’ focus for hiring in 2024 will be two-fold. Companies will continue to adopt a discerning approach to recruitment, carefully assessing the necessity of each replacement before making hiring decisions and ensuring that such hires are productive and add value to the bottom line. Secondly, we expect leaders to concentrate on retaining their talent and matching the expectations of their employees around flexible working practices, career advancement opportunities, and a supportive company culture.”
Accounting and Finance
Most in demand positions for 2024: Newly Qualified Accountant in Big 4/Top 10 Firms, Senior Accountant, Tax Accountant, Tax Manager, Finance Business Partner/ FP&A Manager.
The Accounting and Finance sector in Ireland encountered numerous challenges throughout 2023. Despite the constraints, organisations continued to hire, showing a preference for temporary roles over permanent and fixed-term contracts. However, there were fewer available positions compared to previous years when hiring reached unprecedented levels.
Indications towards the latter end of 2023, show optimistic plans to return to hiring activities across a wide range of sectors. Senior professionals can expect their salaries to remain relatively stable, primarily owing to the limited availability of job openings and reduced competitive pressure. Conversely, individuals within the range of Newly Qualified to 3 years PQE can look forward to increased compensation, driven by a talent deficit exacerbated by emigration. These patterns are expected to persist into 2024.
There will be more of a focus on hiring professionals with strong transversal skills with an emphasis on stakeholder management as navigating a hybrid working environment continues. Additionally, those accounting and finance professionals skilled in Big Data analytics, data management and Big Data reporting will be in highest demand in 2024 as transactional work will continue to become automated.
Accountants will play a wider role in developing and implementing ESG reporting strategies and we expect to see greater demand for accountants for ESG reporting through 2024.
Banking and Financial Services
Most in demand positions for 2024: Pension administrators, Claims Specialists, Risk Managers, Insurance Commercial Brokers, Insurance Underwriters, Treasury Managers and Treasury Analysts.
Throughout 2023, the Banking and Financial Services sector remained active, characterised by a significant surge in contract hiring. Skill shortages, especially in roles requiring in-demand expertise and experience, made professionals with relevant qualifications particularly sought after. However, the reduction in new roles in the market throughout 2023 has shifted the balance of power toward hiring companies.
Growing risks in climate change will continue to drive increased demand for claims and underwriting professionals throughout 2024 with claims administrators, claims assessors, claims handlers and insurance underwriters all anticipated to be in high demand.
Salaries within the sector have remained stable due to the reduction in available positions, which has lessened the competitive hiring landscape. This change implies that job seekers may need to reassess their salary expectations when seeking new opportunities.
Most in demand positions for 2024: Software Developer, Web Developer, DevOps/Cloud Engineer, Infrastructure Engineer, QA Engineer/ SDET, Cloud Infrastructure Engineer, Information Security Specialist, Operation Technology Security Specialist, Security Architect, Solutions Architect, Enterprise Architect, Data Analyst, Data Scientist and Data Engineer.
The Technology market witnessed a temporary softening in the middle of 2023, which led to a scarcity of roles. However, there was an overall increase in contract opportunities as organisations adopted a cautious yet optimistic approach. The sentiment among organisations is generally positive, with signs that hiring momentum is on the horizon in 2024.
The market indicates there will be a persistent need for cybersecurity professionals, particularly as the deadline for Member States to comply with the updated NIS 2 Directive approaches in October 2024. The demand for cybersecurity experts is rising, leading to a rapid expansion in the talent pool, which has grown by 35% year on year.
In 2023, tech salaries in Ireland saw modest increases, impacted by inflation and a talent shortage, resulting in a supply and demand effect. Counteroffers became more common, with employers offering top-performing professionals salary hikes of 15-20% to retain them. For 2024, salary increases are expected to stabilise in most fields as tech talent increasingly shows a willingness to accept reduced pay in exchange for fully remote work options. It’s worth noting that the technology sector remains the most open to remote work among employers.
Legal, Risk, and Compliance
Most in demand positions for 2024: Corporate Lawyer, Energy Lawyers, Data Protection/Privacy Lawyer, Employment Lawyer, Investment Funds Lawyer, Company Secretary, Risk Analyst, Claims Handler, Risk Manager, Model Risk Analyst, Compliance Manager, Chief Compliance Officer, Compliance Regulatory Officer, and Financial Crime Officer.
In 2023, the Legal, Risk, and Compliance sectors encountered talent shortages and struggled with prolonged hiring processes focused on specific skill sets and experience.
Global geopolitical factors such as the war in Ukraine and escalating conflict in Israel-Gaza has had a knock-on impact on the requirement for legal services as corporate lawyers will continue to be in high demand in 2024 to navigate business challenges such as supply chain/logistics disruptions, economic volatility caused by inflationary pressures, suspending of operations in certain countries etc.
Additionally, the EU’s commitment to climate neutrality by 2050 and global efforts to decarbonise the economy are creating opportunities for energy lawyers, making them highly sought after in 2024.
Looking ahead to 2024, there’s optimism for improved economic conditions and more flexible budget constraints, potentially leading to increased hiring. However, it is expected that salaries will remain unchanged, as post-COVID raises have already been incorporated into compensation packages.
Life Sciences and Engineering
Most in demand positions for 2024: Quantity Surveyor, Site Engineer, Construction Project Manager, Resident Engineer / Project Supervisor, Health & Safety Officer, Process Engineer, Project Engineer, Automation Engineer, CQV Engineer, QA Specialist, Qualified Person (QP), Validation Engineer, QC Analyst, Laboratory Manager, and R&D Engineer.
Ireland remains an attractive location for biopharma investments, with a significant increase in Life Sciences research and development investments over the past 11 years. Multinationals like BD, Siemens Healthineers, Boston Scientific, Thermo Fisher Scientific, and Meissner Corporation have made investments in this sector in 2023, with further growth anticipated in permanent and contract hiring, especially in contract roles.
The Engineering sector has seen consistent hiring, with a growing demand for senior-level positions to build a talent base before expanding junior roles. Increased investment in manufacturing and environmental sectors has boosted demand for professionals in these areas. Energy and Sustainability Engineers, with skills in LEAN and BREEAM, will be highly sought after in 2024 and beyond.
The return of the Irish diaspora and the influx of international talent, primarily from South Africa and India, are expected to continue in 2024, with a focus on planning and scheduling skills for large projects.
Skills shortages, particularly in automation, have posed hiring challenges. Electrical engineers have seen substantial salary increases (10%) due to their scarcity in the market. Salaries for construction professionals are expected to remain high in 2024 due to ongoing skills shortages, creating significant opportunities for recent graduates. For instance, newly qualified CAD designers could command €28k, fresh civil engineering graduates may secure €36k, and inexperienced Quantity Surveyors could earn a €40k salary. These graduate salaries are competing very favourably with other sectors which typically dictated the higher end of earning potential for new graduate salaries such as technology and investment management within financial services.
Supply Chain and Procurement
Most in demand positions for 2024: Planners, Procurement/Buyers, and Supply Chain Project Manager.
Recruitment in the supply chain and procurement sector maintained a consistent momentum throughout 2023, with a focus on permanent positions. However, a limited supply of talent led organisations to consider contractors to bridge immediate skills gaps. The majority of supply chain professionals typically come from outside Ireland, and the increased cost of living in the country has restricted the flow of professionals relocating for work.
The biggest skills gap going into 2024 exists in lower-level operator roles within the food and beverage industry where the existing workforce falls short of the industry’s demands. This discrepancy can be attributed to less favourable working conditions and comparatively lower remuneration when contrasted with alternative sectors and this is likely to be addressed in the coming year.
Demand in 2024 will also be high for supervisors in key sectors such as pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and food and beverage and we expect to see some salary inflation in this position.
While salary experienced an initial increase in early 2023, the evolving market dynamics resulted in stabilised rates. Professionals with niche expertise can still command salary increases when changing roles, but overall, salaries are predicted to be flat through 2024.
Most in demand positions for 2024: Executive Assistant, Office Manager, Graduates, Office Administrator and Receptionist
Business support hiring in Ireland exhibited a significant uptick in long-term temporary roles, often managed through agencies. This trend reflects organisations with headcount constraints that still need to complete essential tasks. However, permanent recruitment faced challenges, with many companies exercising caution. The competition for experienced talent intensified, leading to longer interview processes.
It is anticipated that permanent salaries are unlikely to see significant changes in 2024. However, temporary and contract professionals may command higher hourly/ daily rates. This shift is driven by organisations showing more flexibility and offering competitive rates to attract short-term talent.
Most in demand positions for 2024: CEO, COO, CFO, CTO and SVP Quality and in more niche positions such as Chief Growth Officer, Head of Sustainability/ESG, Chief Revenue Officer, Chief Transformation Officer, Chief Strategy Officer and Chief Digital Officer.
In 2023, the executive job market displayed resilience despite fluctuations in demand across different sectors. The financial services sector maintained a strong demand for leaders with regulatory expertise and technological proficiency. Executives, while open to new opportunities, often preferred to retain their current positions, leading to extended negotiation periods and more frequent counteroffers.
The demands for hiring Executives in the new post pandemic world has expanded immeasurably, with C-Suite professionals now being hired for growth against a backdrop of digital transformation, agenda to strike a DEI balance and a requirement for a track record in leading remote teams. All of this coupled with an organisational need to be sustainable and profitable.
In 2024, we expect to see a continuation of the trend of organisations leaning more on data and analytics to identify the right leadership talent which resulted in greater collaboration with Executive Search Providers and availing of deep market mapping services.
Most in demand Positions for 2024: HR Business Partner, HR Generalist, HR Administrator, HR Data analyst, Benefits Analyst and Rewards Manager.
In the HR field, the recruitment market faced challenges in the first half of 2023 due to an oversupply of senior talent acquisition professionals, particularly influenced by developments in Tech in the previous year. However, in 2024, HR professionals are expected to take on an expanded role, focusing on enhancing the overall employee experience, accommodating various work models (hybrid/ remote), and supporting employee development and well-being. This shift will require the presence of Strategic HR Business Partners to drive ethical growth and HR administrators to manage increased legislative and GDPR responsibilities. Salaries for HR professionals remained relatively stable, and this trend is anticipated to continue in 2024.
Most in demand Multilingual positions for 2024: Sales Development Representative, Account Executive, Customer Service Representative, Business Development Representative.
The multilingual job market remains adaptable to economic conditions and industry fluctuations, with increased demand in financial services and pharmaceutical sectors expected in 2024. Despite a marginal decrease in demand from the Tech sector in 2023, remote work and hybrid models continue to influence hiring decisions for this talent cohort. Multilingual candidates express a preference for flexible work options when choosing employers.
Attractive compensation and benefits play a significant role in attracting and retaining top talent in this segment. We expect to see a slight uptick in salaries for Sales and Service-related positions in 2024, especially for languages in high demand, such as German, Dutch, and the Nordic languages.
Projects and Change
Most in demand positions for 2024: Project Managers – IT & Business, Programme Managers, Transformation Specialists, ERP PM & Programme and PMOs – Analysts, Leads, Managers.
In 2024, there is a strong demand for Projects, Strategy, and Change professionals to support various industry needs, including Tech Transformation, Automation, ERP System Upgrades, Leadership, Cultural Change, Cybersecurity, Operational Risk, Resilience, and Outsourcing Advisory.
These professionals have shown a growing preference for contract employment, a trend expected to continue through 2024 due to the anticipated demand for their skills in both the public and private sectors. Contracting offers financial advantages and flexibility, making it more appealing than permanent roles in this field. It enables organisations to manage fluctuations in business needs while accessing new capabilities.
Salary increases are the primary motivators for project and change professionals to change employers. While daily rates for Mid to Senior-level Project Managers and Business Analysts remained stable in 2023, transformation roles experienced salary boosts, a trend likely to continue into 2024.
Sales and Marketing
Most in demand positions for 2024: Sales Representative, Technical Sales Representative, Area Sales Manager, Business Development Manager, Sales Manager, Communications Manager, Brand Manager, Content Strategists, Digital Marketing Specialist/ Manager, Marketing Executive/Manager and Head of Marketing, Research Analyst
In 2023, Sales and Marketing recruitment remained stable, with a slight increase in the junior market. Multinationals hired less experienced sales talent and trained them to adapt to rapidly changing markets. However, enterprise sales professionals still preferred candidates with relevant experience.
In 2024, the focus is expected to shift toward sales performance, with a proven track record becoming a critical factor in hiring decisions. Market Research Analysts will also be in high demand as companies seek more insights for strategic growth.
Brand Managers with skills in design, social media marketing, digital marketing, content marketing, and market research will continue to be sought after in 2024. Content strategists are also expected to see increased demand as they help drive inbound traffic and foster customer loyalty, contributing to organisational growth. Value-based hiring will be a key consideration for all marketing hires in 2024.