Northern Ireland firms 'breaking salary caps to attract best talent' says survey

More than three quarter of employers in the north do not believe they will be able to fill high-skilled jobs in the future

MOST businesses in Northern Ireland are having to pay above-average salaries to attract the right people amid a growing skills shortage crisis, an island-wide study has found.

Nearly nine in every 10 firms operating in the north say they had difficulty recruiting over the past year, according to survey of more than 100 Irish firms by Performance Reward Consulting.

And 80 per cent of respondents in the north say they've had to bump up pay packets to secure candidates in 2018, while nearly two thirds expect to cast their nets internationally to recruit for some of their Irish-based roles in 2019.

Patrick Robertson, managing director of Performance Reward Consulting, said “As the market continues to heat up, many Northern Ireland-based organisations are now struggling to recruit and retain key talent and they are now often having to look outside Ireland to recruit for certain skills.

"But this brings challenges integrating employees who have worked abroad, and concerns around insurance, healthcare, driving licences and education can arise during the recruitment and induction process.”

To try and combat employee turnover issues, 39 per cent of respondents in the north are planning active steps to increase their employee retention in 2019, including market pay reviews, changes to grading structures, introduction of incentives and employment rebranding.

Mr Robertson added: “It's interesting to see how many local firms are reviewing their benefits plans to assist with retention. Some 38 per cent of respondents in the north will enhance benefits next year, including developing on-site facilities, wellness programmes and flexible working.”

Most organisations quizzed in the survey plan pay rises for 2019 - with an average of 3 per cent in the north and 2.5 per cent in the Republic.

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