Northern Ireland saw 'V-shaped' recruitment recovery in first quarter - new report

Recruitment listings in the first quarter of 2021 were 24 per cent up on the same period last year, according to
Ryan McAleer

MORE jobs were advertised in the north during first quarter of 2021 than at any time during the last three years, a new report has shown.

The latest analysis by has revealed a ‘V-shaped’ recovery in the Northern Ireland recruitment market in the first three months of the year, with jobs listings increasing 40 per cent from the end of 2020, driven by the IT and healthcare sectors.

The Jobs Report, which is compiled alongside Ulster bank, found recruitment listings in the first quarter (Q1) of 2021 were 24 per cent higher than the same period in 2020.

While some sectors including hospitality continue to bear the scars of the pandemic, the quarterly report indicated that total job listings have more than trebled since the catastrophic lockdown low of Q2 2020, when vacancies on the website plunged by 61 per cent.

Ulster Bank’s chief economist Richard Ramsey said the unprecedented government employment support during the pandemic has kept unemployment rates here surprisingly low, with the labour market not following the same trajectory as Northern Ireland’s economic output.

“When the support measures are eventually lifted, unemployment will surge, but nowhere near the levels that was anticipated a year ago,” he said.

“While the output recovery may have lapsed in Q4 and Q1 2021, the recruitment recovery has continued to build.

“In fact, the local recruitment market’s ‘V-shaped’ recovery is now complete – at least in terms of the overall job listings.”

The growing confidence among employers was reflected in last week’s PMI from Ulster Bank, which revealed the first increase in employment levels in 13 months.

IT professionals continue to be the most in demand jobs in Northern Ireland.

Official labour market data has also pointed to a slowdown in job cuts, with no new redundancies proposed in either January or February.

The new analysis from NIJobs indicated skilled IT worker continue to be the most sought after, with tech roles dominating the top ten most in-demand professionals.

The number of nursing, healthcare and medical jobs has also increased significantly over the year.

Both the IT and healthcare sectors accounted for two-thirds of the additional jobs recorded in Q1. One-in-four of all posts advertised in the first quarter were in nursing, healthcare or medical.

The report reveals that the fast-growing cyber-security sector has become an increasingly important lynch-pin of the job market, while sharp quarterly increases were recorded in the sales (223 per cent); science, agriculture, pharmaceutical and food (224 per cent); and transport, logistics and warehousing (160 per cent) sectors.

Richard Ramsey said the north's recruitment market has started 2021 well.

"However, the overall strong performance conceals some very weak activity in areas such as the hospitality sector" he said.

"But even hospitality is poised for a rebound as and when the lockdown restrictions are progressively eased."

Sam McIlveen, general manager at, added: “Our Q1 data is encouraging and demonstrates that a range of sectors are investing in the workforce.

“As lockdown restrictions ease further, we will see more confidence in consumer habits, spending and business growth across some areas too which should all create positive outcomes for the jobs market.”

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