Hiring platform NIJobs reveals that optimism and investment are some of the factors contributing to healthy recruitment levels as the local market continues to defy expectation.
The Q1 NIJobs Report with Ulster Bank also signals that the normalisation of the job market continued following previous record highs. The total number of advertised job vacancies decreased by 8% in Q1 2023 and represented the fewest number of job listings in two years. However, the level of recruitment activity in the latest quarter still exceeds anything that occurred prior to the pandemic and was 41% above the corresponding quarter in 2019.
Retail was the most notable recruitment category to record an increase in Q1 listings in 2023 – rising by 14% q/q and doubling y/y. Despite a dip in UK retail figures for March, the most recent ONS data recorded the first rise in quarterly sales since August 2021. Northern Ireland’s retail sector has been performing strongly in recent quarters as it has benefited from a significant flow of cross-border shoppers from the Republic of Ireland.
Sam McIlveen, Managing Director at StepStone Ireland, parent company of NIJobs says; “These insights demonstrate that despite earlier gloomy predictions, the NI job market is performing strongly with plenty of jobs available sector wide.
“Trending jobs this quarter included Optometrist, Support Worker, Laboratory Assistant, Bartender and Motor Vehicle Technician. With Retail listings growing significantly and Hospitality roles up compared to this time last year, it is an indicator that businesses are preparing for the summer months.”
“We have experienced a rise in demand for Retail Assistants and Retail Supervisors. In Q1 2023 employers were also hiring for Assistant Retail Manager and Assistant Shop Manager positions. This is interesting and suggests that employers are becoming increasingly savvy when it comes to recruitment.
“Focusing on internal talent creates upskilling opportunities and higher career progression for existing employees whilst meeting evolving business needs.
“Looking ahead to future recruitment developments, the US Presidential visit reiterated that Northern Ireland has a huge economic growth opportunity going forwards if the Executive is restored. We already know that we have much to offer in terms of skills and talent. US companies currently employ around 30,000 people here and there is an upward trend of significant investment from American firms including Proofpoint and ShopKeep who are all hiring with the support of NIJobs. “
The quarterly data and job listings from NIJobs.com are viewed as a leading indicator of labour market performance, giving insight into recruitment trends, the economic environment and the types of roles job seekers are searching for online.
Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank’s Chief Economist adds; “
“The resilience of the local labour market continues to defy expectations. Official statistics revealed another record high in employee numbers in March with the current unemployment rate (2.4%) marginally above its record low. A pick-up in business activity and optimism in the first quarter has been accompanied by robust hiring rates within the private sector.
“The latest NIJobs Report with Ulster Bank signals a further moderation in recruitment activity during the first three months of the year. It was broad-based with 28 of the 39 categories recording a quarterly decline in job vacancies in Q1 2023. Interestingly, however, almost all the 38 categories still have higher levels of recruitment activity in the first quarter of 2023 than they had in the corresponding quarter in 2019 (pre-pandemic).
Two exceptions are IT and Education which saw their job listings fall to 8-quarter and 11-quarter lows, respectively. Nevertheless, IT still accounted for the third largest share of overall vacancies after Management and Catering. All three of these categories each account for around 7% of total listings. Skilled Trades, Social Care and Health occupy the next three positions. Social Care and Health vacancies fell to 8-quarter and 9-quarter lows, respectively.
Retail was the most notable recruitment category to record an increase in listings in Q1 2023 –Northern Ireland’s retail sector has been performing strongly in recent quarters as it has benefited from significant flows of cross-border shoppers from the Republic of Ireland. Retail job postings in Q1 2023 represented a six-quarter-high and was not far off from its record high.
“One of the biggest challenges facing the local economy concerns the outlook for the public finances. Stormont Departments face their biggest squeeze on public expenditure since devolution back in 1998. The lack of a functioning government simply makes a bad situation worse. Public sector employment and aspects of the economy reliant on public expenditure will be vulnerable.”