North's job vacancies at record high levels, but skills shortages a cause for concern
THE number of job vacancies in north has increased to an all-time high, according to new figures.
The latest NIJobs.com Jobs Report with Ulster Bank, covering the period July to September, shows that vacancies are up 23 per cent from the same period in 2017 and well over a third (37 per cent) in three years.
Belfast is the main driver, with the number of jobs in the city up 22 per cent over the year and 10 per cent over the quarter.
The report highlights a healthy recruitment market, with seven out of 32 job categories reporting record highs and roles in engineering, accountancy and finance, construction and IT all experiencing an increase in listings.
IT remains the sector advertising the most vacancies, while IT and engineering combined account for one in five of all job listings.
That being said the report highlights the longstanding issue of skills shortages as an ongoing area of concern, with employers now being urged to explore new ways to attract talent.
General manager of NIjobs.com, Sam McIlveen believes good employer branding is essential for companies who are recruiting.
“To overcome the skills gap and hire the talented workers needed to drive businesses forward, employers must look at how they represent themselves to jobseekers," he said.
"It's not enough to offer a job, you need to convince a candidate that your company can give them the opportunity to progress and develop both professionally and personally. It's not about bigger salaries, companies need to think beyond that and look at how they engage and communicate with candidates even at the very beginning of the recruitment process."
Ulster Bank chief economist, Richard Ramsey said the latest figures highlight a strong supply of job vacancies in Northern Ireland, but warned the skills deficit could be heightened by Brexit.
"It is the third consecutive quarter that listings increased and overall, have risen by a quarter in the last year. This is a reflection of both the rate at which new jobs are being created and the fact that a significant number of vacancies are emerging from existing positions."
“A deficit in skills has been a longstanding problem within the Northern Ireland economy, particularly in some sectors, however, this appears to be moving up a gear, in part related to the number of EU nationals now leaving Northern Ireland for more lucrative opportunities elsewhere in the EU.
“This is likely to intensify further given the UK's desire to restrict migrant labour and the challenge for the Northern Ireland economy is going to be job replacement and retention rather than just job creation," Mr Ramsey added.