Local recruitment agencies well placed to spot trends for year ahead

The first in a three part series

In a new three part series, The Galway Advertiser in conjunction with our classifieds website classifieds.advertiser.ie is examining the current state of the jobs market in the region. We spoke to experts from three well known recruitment companies which operate offices in the city; Collins McNicholas, Cpl, and HAYS. In this week’s feature, we assess the year gone by, while next week the recruiters make their predictions for 2015 and in the final part of the series, there will be advice and tips on how to land your dream job.

In the years up to 2007, Ireland and in turn Galway, had one of the healthiest labour markets in the world. However we are all only too aware of the turn of events since the economic boom, when thousands of people lost their jobs through no fault of their own. This is undoubtedly a heartbreaking and humiliating experience. There is so much more to a job than money, it is an extension of our identities, a steady routine, and a positive social outlet. We hope if you are a jobseeker or considering a job or indeed a career change that some of the information and pointers in this series helps to give you the confidence and motivation to aspire to be the best you can be.

Recruitment professionals are extremely well placed to speculate on the state of the labour market and the economy in general. These companies will always see indicators first, as the first thing that grinds to a halt when the economy is on a downward spiral is recruitment and it is the first thing which picks up when the economy is going in the other direction. The three experts are very much of the same opinion as to where the jobs market currently stands in Galway; there has been a gradual upturn since 2013 and the message is; Galway is very much open for business.

SMEs are hiring again

Michelle Murphy is the regional manager of recruitment and HR services group Collins McNicholas, she says the company has had another busy year in 2014 recruiting for the medical devices industry, of which Galway is a hub. “The multinationals like Boston, Merit, Creganna, and Medtronic have been very busy and are constantly seeking engineering personnel. There has been a big focus on Research and Development and we have placed a lot of R&D engineers and manufacturing and processing engineers. And what is really positive is we saw the smaller med device companies expanding. There are spin-off companies being created from the larger multinationals – well qualified, experienced, staff setting up on their own and being very successful.’’

Ms Murphy says there has also been huge movement in the area of ICT. “There was a large number of jobs created for experienced software development engineers. We also saw a change in the small indigenous companies [SMEs] beginning to hire again which is a great barometer as to the state of the market. We’ve seen positions created in marketing, finance, administration, management roles, and even executive roles. Many companies have shifted from offering permanent jobs to offering short-term contracts. They may not have approval initially for a full-time role so they would approach us to source personnel to look after certain projects. Validation, quality, regulatory affairs and process engineers are all very much in demand for contract work.’’

Cpl Galway specialises in Engineering, IT, Finance, Business, Multilingual and Customer Service roles in the West of Ireland. Operations manager Ronan O’Sullivan  says there has been growth in the market particularly, as is a similar thread with the others, in the areas of engineering and information technology. “The well-known medical device companies are consistently hiring, but it is all people of the same skill set - experienced engineers - and that pool of people is drying up, so the difficulty lies in finding the right people.  It has become much more about us seeking people, as opposed to them applying to us We are now finding people and trying to convince them that there is a job out there which is better than the one they have.’’ He believes it is hard to find the right balance, between having too many jobs and not enough people to fill them, or too many people and not enough jobs. “We are at the latter stage again now - which is obviously a much better place to be in - than our previous position a few years ago.”

People getting confidence to move

One thing he notices is that financial jobs are not as buoyant as he expected them to be. “I don’t see a lot of movement in accountancy/financial jobs. There is some but it is way off the amount which was here pre 2007.’’ However he does believe towards the latter end of 2014 the fear of changing jobs subsided. “Up to now, people were a bit scared, they had an attitude that they were lucky to have work, why would they change jobs. Now they are seeing that demand is up, they have the confidence to move on. There is always a lag, you tend to find the high value jobs which require large amounts of education and training will come on steam first and that ‘tide’ will lift everyone else. It’s a domino effect, more people getting well paid jobs spend more money, so therefore jobs in service and retail industries increase.’’

Cpl has taken a strategic decision at its Galway office to set up a construction desk separate to its technical and engineering section. “We feel there will be enough jobs coming onstream in 2015 to warrant having somebody working in this area full time. It is a calculated punt but we are seeing a definate momentum in this area again.’’ says Mr O’Sullivan.

HAYS Galway business director Niall Toland says the company saw a big uplift in the jobs market across different divisions last year. HAYS Galway specialises in three key areas, 1 ) Construction and property 2 ) Accountancy and finance, and, 3 ) Life sciences which takes in the medical device/pharma industries. “Things are picking up, there’s greater lending and more consumer confidence. There’s more funding filtering through from the Government. We are dealing with various contractors who are building the Gort/Tuam bypass, in relation to the supply of staff. It’s going to create huge employment right across the spectrum and is a huge boost to the local economy. In 2014, there was a 93 per cent increase in construction jobs available compared to the same time in 2013. That would have spread across from trades and labour roles, to professional positions such as engineering, quantity surveyors, project managers, architects and property managers. There’s obviously been a starker increase in the Leinster region as you would expect, but that filters down. It bodes well for the industry and we see that improving again in 2015.’’

Road project is a major boost

Again Mr Toland also alludes to a shortage of suitably qualified candidates to take up construction roles. “Many have emigrated and the number of graduates has greatly reduced, as during the recession construction was not an appealing industry for students. We are definitely looking overseas to source candidates for specific roles. We would liaise with recruitment staff in our offices around the world.’’

He also says that things have shifted a little bit in that the temp/contract work market has grown in recent years. “We could recruit candidates for specific projects on rolling contracts of three/six or nine months. Many employers have got out of the mode of employing people on a permanent basis because they are thinking along the lines that if they have to let them go in the future, it will cost them money in redundancy. As the economy improves, we are hopeful that employers will see the benefit in taking people on full-time - if they are going to expend time, energy, and money training people then they can see the value of a return on that investment.’’

Collins McNicholas, Briarhill House, Briarhill Business Park.  (091 ) 706 706  www.collinsmcnicholas.ie

Cpl Recruitment Galway, 3 Merchant's Rd. (091 ) 507 500, www.cpl.ie

HAYS, 3a, Commerce House, Flood St. (091 ) 533 417, www.hays.ie

For a comprehensive list of jobs in Galway visit www.classifieds.advertiser.ie

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