Construction is one of the sectors most acutely experiencing skills shortages. Image: yuttana Contributor Studio/Shutterstock
Construction is one of the sectors experiencing skills shortages. Image: yuttana Contributor Studio/Shutterstock

More than three-quarters of Irish employers face skills shortages

29 Nov 2017

New research conducted by Hays has found that 78pc of employers have experienced skills shortages in the past year, ranging from ‘moderate’ to ‘severe’.

It is difficult to deny that Ireland is experience a skills shortage. The ubiquitous STEM skills gap is compounded by an accommodation crisis in Ireland, which has the potential to negatively impact the Irish tech boom and deter the best and brightest from stepping onto our shores.

If the newly published Hays Ireland Salary and Recruiting Trends 2018 guide is any indication, the squeeze is being felt by employers and employees alike.

A survey of 1,700 employees and employers in Ireland found that 78pc of Irish companies have experienced ‘moderate’ or ‘extreme’ skills shortages over the past 12 months.

The salary data was gathered from Hays’ offices across Ireland and is based on job listings, job offers and candidate registrations.

Looking to the future with grim expectations

These shortages have coloured the forecast for the future hiring process, too. While 74pc of employers surveyed are on the hunt for new recruits in the coming year, 75pc expect that finding candidates with the requisite skills will present a significant challenge.

The survey indicates that 34pc of employers will hire more temporary and contract staff to counteract the issue.

Almost one-third (30pc) will increase training budgets, and 29pc – mostly concentrated in construction, life sciences and tech – will resort to hiring workers from overseas.

What fuels discontent

What might further exacerbate the skills shortage is the level of dissatisfaction reported among employees. Close to 60pc of surveyed employees are unhappy with their salaries, and 30pc feel they may leave their jobs as a result.

On a more general note, 51pc of employees expect to leave their jobs in general, which possibly speaks to the emerging trend of careers being characterised by frequent job – or even sector – changes.

Roughly three-quarters (74pc) of Irish companies indicated they have given their workers a pay rise over the past 12 months, almost a quarter (24pc) of which have bestowed an increase of between 2.5 and 5pc, with 19pc giving more than a 5pc raise.

The largest pay rises occur, unsurprisingly, in the industries with the most persistent skills shortages, such as tech and construction.

Mismatched priorities

There was somewhat of a gulf between employer expectation and employee needs. While 20pc of employers acknowledge that career development is the most effective way to attract staff, 41pc of employees do not believe their current place of work offers this.

12pc of employers see work-life balance as an important facet to attracting new staff, yet this is ranked as the most important factor for a quarter of jobseekers.

Furthermore, 42pc of employees rate their work-life balance as poor, and 13pc said they have seen increased absenteeism, which can be attributed to workplace stress.

More than two-thirds of employees value health or private medical benefits above all else, yet less than half (47pc) of employers offer this.

While 61pc of employees value flexible working, only 49pc of employers offer it. Having more than 25 days of annual leave was important to 56pc of employees but offered by only 25pc of employers.

Going forward

Maureen Lynch, director at Hays Ireland, weighed in on the findings and concluded that employers need to make workplace planning a greater priority.

Lynch said: “Not having the right talent available is more than just a short-term operations and admin headache – 31pc of employers acknowledged that it’s a serious problem that can undermine revenue streams and stunt growth.

“Senior management needs to understand the risks of being chronically short-staffed, mitigate them and make best use of the solutions available to them, like in-house training or overseas recruitment.

“Ireland has the fastest-growing economy in Europe, and businesses and employees are confident, with 96pc of organisations expecting their activity levels to increase or stay the same over the next 12 months.

“This is particularly positive, compared to five years ago, when workers were forced to take whatever open position was available. Now, more than half plan on switching jobs in the next 12 months, many purely on the grounds of salaries and benefits.

“Businesses need to remain competitive to survive this war for talent, and one key tactic in the fight is developing a strong, distinct brand with a discernible culture, mission statement and vision for the future.”

For more information, the full report is available upon request from Hays.

Eva Short
By Eva Short

Eva Short was a journalist at Silicon Republic, specialising in the areas of tech, data privacy, business, cybersecurity, AI, automation and future of work, among others.

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