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Northern Ireland Jobs: 2021 Trends

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​It is impossible to ignore the exceptional challenges Covid-19 has forced upon industries across Northern Ireland and the world. What has been most apparent however, is the resilience of people and companies.

From the rapid mobilisation of teams to work from home to the innovative ways in which companies now reach their customers online, the dedication and adaptability of people should be our key takeaway from 2020.

Covid-19 & remote working has also widened the talent pool and put a renewed emphasis on hiring technical ability, aligned employer and employee values and the need for strong internet, even in the most rural of locations.

Industries hiring in Northern Ireland

Key sectors that are prospering in Northern Ireland include technology, life sciences, HR, and retail. The technology sector has been leading the way in 2021 keeping workforces connected remotely, ensuring protection against data breaches and attacks, and bringing operations online, all of which has resulted in a demand for specialised skill sets.

Similarly, HR professionals have been crucial in maintaining a sense of community amongst workers and introducing initiatives to maintain company culture alive online. Retail has also had a remarkable year with grocery workers fast becoming essential, front-line workers.

Within the Life Sciences sector many businesses have had to adapt to the challenging times. However, manufacturing demand for Pharmaceuticals / Medical devices is still required at consistent Pre-Covid levels so our clients have remained almost fully operational during this time and while there may have been changes in terms of shift patterns, most have maintained 100% manufacturing output.

Impacts of Brexit

The ongoing discussion around the Irish Sea border means the short-term impact of Brexit on the job market is yet to be defined.

While we are hopeful that Northern Ireland’s key sectors (IT, finance, contact centre, B2B and legal) will continue to thrive, employers will have to work harder to attract and retain employees, especially those from outside the UK.

Blue Collar industries are also encountering new challenges in attracting employees who would have traditionally come from Europe. The lasting impact of this remains to be seen but there is optimism that Northern Ireland’s current position in the EU Single Market make us an attractive location for future investment.

Key challenges and opportunities

Attracting the very best talent will remain a top challenge for employers in 2021. Those in jobs are more cautious when considering a new opportunity and want to understand the company and role in detail before committing to a move.

As a result, we have noticed that candidates are more interested in working with a recruitment consultant who can offer a deep understanding of the market and their clients.

For professionals, a level of ­flexibility is now expected from the employers along the necessary soft skills to navigate challenging times.

Much like the rest of Ireland, we also expect the demand for contract and temporary workers to continue increasing particularly in technology, production, marketing, sales, and pharma.

Salary expectations and benefits in 2021

The Tech sector is showing a moderate increase in salaries, which we expect to continue through 2021. In other industries, where increased salaries may not be an option, we have seen a shift towards benefits that offer security to retain talent.

These types of benefits include continuous learning and upskilling opportunities and allowances. There is also a massive emphasis on authentic company culture and meaningful diversity and inclusion policies. Looking towards the future, our recruitment teams have cautious optimism.

If your company is based in Northern Ireland or is thinking of hiring in Northern Ireland and you require a more detailed analysis of your sector, please get in touch or download our full Northern Ireland Salary Guide for 2021.