Skills shortages in Northern Ireland drives up salaries, new research suggests

A new survey from from Hays suggests the average salary in Northern Ireland has increased 2.4 per cent since last year
A new survey from from Hays suggests the average salary in Northern Ireland has increased 2.4 per cent since last year

SALARIES in the north are increasing at a faster rate than the UK average, in part because employers are finding it hard to recruit people with the right skills, a new survey out today suggests.

The annual Hays UK salary and recruiting trends 2020 guide found that the average salary in Northern Ireland had increased 2.4 per cent, slightly above the average rise of 1.8 per cent registered across the UK and up on the two per cent jump locally in the same survey a year ago.

Official government data released last month by the Northern Ireland Research and Statistics Agency found the typical wage packet for full-time workers in the north had increased by 1.2 per cent in real terms to £535 over the past year.

Hays’ report is based on responses from almost 31,500 employers and candidates working in a range of industries across the UK, including 937 in Northern Ireland.

The survey found the greatest spike in pay for java developers (11 per cent), ahead of data engineers (10.5 per cent) and payroll managers (9.6 per cent).

Among NI-based employers, 79 per cent said they expect to hire additional staff in the next year, slightly down on the same survey last year, but ahead of the UK average of 68 per cent.

However, 81 per cent of local employers said they had experienced some form of skills shortage within the past 12 months, against a UK average of 88 per cent, with two-thirds of employers surveyed saying the top recruitment challenge faced by their business is a shortage of suitable applicants.

In the north, 80 per cent of employers reported that they have found it difficult to recruit permanent staff over the past 12 months and 60 per cent found it hard to recruit temporary workers, above the UK employer averages of 69 per cent and 45 per cent respectively.

Some 76 per cent of employers here said they had increased salaries in the past year. More than half said that the skills gap was negatively affecting productivity (51 per cent) and over a third (35 per cent) believed that the issue was having a real impact on their ability to deliver projects.

Hays' managing director in Northern Ireland, John Moore said the research suggests employers will need to work harder to stand out from their competition, particularly in the tech and finance sectors.

“While employers are slightly more cautious in their overall hiring plans against an uncertain economic backdrop, they continue to face skills shortages and need competitive strategies to communicate with and attract candidates in harder to fill roles."

He added: “Employers continue to struggle with niche skills shortages and difficulties recruiting staff in a number of industries. The impact of these skills gaps is far-reaching – reduced productivity, lower employee morale and greater absenteeism due to stress. Most employers cite increased competition as the main cause of shortages and given that digital transformation is now an integral part of today’s workplace, the competition for talent with digital skills is particularly fierce."

Top salary increases for Northern Ireland include:

• Java Developer – 11.1%

• Data Engineer – 10.5%

• Payroll Manager – 9.6%

• Mechanical Maintenance Engineer – 9.4%

• Senior Credit Controller – 7.7%

• Procurement Manager – 7.1%

• Revit/BIM Technician – 6.7%