A new report released today indicates a robust local job market despite ongoing uncertainty around Brexit and the lack of a functioning local Executive and Assembly. The NIJobs.com Jobs Report with Ulster Bank is a good barometer for the job market highlighting general trends for both employers and employees across 32 categories.
Encouragingly, the rate of overall employment growth has demonstrated no notable signs of slowing with the annual pace of job creation running at a healthy 2% YoY.
As far as vacancies are concerned, the local market ended 2018 the way it began with a strong demand from employers. The latest NIJobs.com data reveals that roles advertised by companies increased by 15% overall in the last twelve months whilst YoY figures for Q4 (2018) are positive.
The big employment winners included; Construction up 59% YoY, IT an increase of 104% YoY. Record highs were also noted in Big Data & Analytics, Science, Agriculture, Pharmaceutical and Food.
Continued Investment Required
Despite growth and positive listings for many employment categories, companies must look beyond the figures against the present backdrop of political uncertainty, says Sam McIlveen, GM of NIJobs.com.
“The current lack of clarity coupled with ongoing skills shortages particularly in the IT sector creates a challenge for NI firms so it is vital that companies are planning effectively whatever the Brexit outcome. Companies must continue to invest in attracting good people effectively and quickly to support their long-term business goals.
“We’re not expecting a Brexit Big Bang in April, we believe we’ll see the market adjust to the new trading arrangements with the EU and there will no doubt be winners and losers in the new dispensation.
“As a leading online recruiter, we too, are acutely aware of our crucial role in ensuring brands attract the right people. This year will see a continuation of our heavy investment in recruitment technology. Guided by sophisticated artificial intelligence, our customers’ vacancies are promoted to relevant candidates. We are expanding the traditional idea of job ‘searching’ to include job ‘matching’ and our site will have the technology to remember each candidate’s skills and experience and match them with the most suitable roles.
“There will be a number of product launches over the next twelve months all with the core objective to enhance recruitment and job hunting making the process effortless for both employers and employees.
2019: A Look Ahead
Ulster Bank’s Chief Economist Richard Ramsey believes that this year will be more challenging for the jobs market with a global economic slowdown and Brexit to contend with.
He says; “Some sectors will be more exposed to these two issues than others will. One of the most ‘Brexit-proof’ sectors has been IT. It continues to go from strength-to-strength with job vacancies more than doubling over the last year to a fresh record high. IT listings now account for more than one-in-seven of all job vacancies. Allied to IT is the growing niche area that is Big Data & Analytics. These sectors are expected to continue on their growth trajectory and are worth watching this year. Filling these vacancies will be a challenge though with growing skills shortages in NI, GB and the Republic of Ireland making retaining talent a priority in 2019. Indeed, last week the Office for National Statistics revealed that the number of vacancies in the UK hit a fresh record high in Q4.
“The legal sector is also one of the key beneficiaries of Brexit and posted a record number of vacancies in Q4. The complexity around this issue will keep demand strong for legal services in the year ahead.
“Production, Manufacturing and Materials saw the number of vacancies ease in Q4 relative to its recent highs. Nevertheless, the demand for labour remains strong. The global slowdown is likely to dampen economic prospects in 2019. That said, ongoing skills shortages coupled with the need to replace EU-27 nationals leaving these shores, should provide a significant source of employment opportunities in 2019.
“Construction, Architecture & Property saw a notable pick-up in demand over the quarter (+19%) and year-on-year (+59%). 2019 is set to be a much more challenging year with a number of surveys pointing to mounting pessimism in the sector. This is largely linked to the lack of a Northern Ireland Executive / decision-making holding up large public-sector investments. Prospects for firms operating in Great Britain and the Republic of Ireland are brighter. The ‘3 H’s’ (Heathrow airport, Hinkley Point Power Station & the HS2 rail link) are a major boost to the construction sector in GB.
“Finally, Accountancy & Finance and Engineering together account for almost one-in-seven of all vacancies. Both of these sectors have performed strongly in 2018. Engineering, like the wider manufacturing sector, faces the challenges of uncertainty over Brexit and the slowdown in the global economy. Like manufacturing, there is a risk of severe supply-side disruption resulting from a ‘No-deal Brexit’. Other sectors particularly exposed to Brexit include Transport, Logistics & Warehousing and Science, Agriculture, Pharmaceutical & Food.”