Northern Ireland’s Tight Labour Market

Northern Ireland is currently experiencing a tight labour market. Demand for labour is quickly outweighing supply, forcing employers to compete for workers and has made employee engagement paramount.

What’s causing this demand for talent?

Rapid decline in new talent entering the Northern Ireland market

The CIPD released a report on the impact of Brexit for employers. The changing migration restrictions, focusing on attracting the brightest and best EU nationals, could have a particularly negative impact if implemented without understanding the need for low skilled industries. 

Workforces need to prepare for Brexit changes and consider where they are going to source individuals with the specific technical skills and knowledge, the willingness to do unattractive, unskilled work, whilst having a strong work ethic, commitment and motivation.

Talent shortage

With the post Brexit labour market delivering talent shortages, many organisations secured temporary contracts, meaning there is less talent available in the market. Those contractors that were on the market are now in permanent positions.

In addition, the low supply of entry level workers has meant the workers available are demanding higher salaries due to their advanced skill sets. 

Low unemployment levels

The NISRA labour survey shows levels of unemployment across Northern Ireland are considerably low, currently sitting at 3.6%, with 28.0% of the NI population economically inactive (21% in the rest of the UK).

Motivators for job seekers eliminated 

People are less motivated to move jobs. The increase in long term remote working has removed some motivators for potential job seekers such as management dislike, colleague disruptions, unenjoyable environments or a long commute. 

Furthermore, with COVID still very much alive, people want security due to the uncertainty that has come with the pandemic. This has resulted in people less likely to move jobs or look for change, favouring job stability. 

How can employers react to the tight labour market?

Due to these factors, HR and management teams need to address employee engagement, employee value proposition and learning and development offerings. It is crucial all supervisors are properly trained and competent in managing people; supporting progression, offering training and development and boast strong communication skills. It is also worthwhile considering reviewing employee salary and packages. 

Retaining employees is key, especially in a tight market. Senior management needs to be trained appropriately and workplaces need to be attractive, inclusive and enjoyable.