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NIJobs Job Report Q1

The latest ‘NIJobs.com Job Report with Ulster Bank’ indicates recruitment is down but not out as the impact of the coronavirus is felt by employers and workers across Northern Ireland.

The economic shutdown has impacted livelihoods and job security in just a matter of weeks. Focusing on activity in March, the NIJobs.com Job Report shows key sectors in Northern Ireland such as Hospitality and Fashion Retail are bearing the initial brunt of the health crisis. At the same time, jobs available in Nursing, Healthcare and Medical sector doubled (+50%) while demand for workers in food production and food retail increased.

Despite a sharp decline in job listings in March, there has been a rise in online searches as businesses and jobseekers battle through the Covid-19 pandemic.

In a reflection of the impact of the crisis on workers, job searches using keywords including ‘temporary’ have more than doubled (85%) and immediate start’ have increased by 46% on the recruitment platform.



Sam McIlveen, General Manager at NIJobs.com, says recruitment may be down, but it is not out and believes resilient recruiters will rethink how they are hiring long-term.

“There has been a change in recruitment in the last quarter and the current health crisis has undoubtedly impacted this. Our research is a barometer, reflecting this moment in time for the NI job market, it shows how the market is coping and responding to the current coronavirus outbreak. Sectors like hospitality, which contributes £1.1bn to the NI economy has frozen while others such as food retail, driving and logistics are experiencing increased consumer demand.”

The ‘NIJobs.com Job Report with Ulster Bank’ provides valuable insight into the economic environment alongside recruitment trends and the types of roles jobseekers are searching for online.

“NI’s employers are incredibly resilient, as you can see by how swiftly local companies switched their product lines to support the healthcare sector. For example, O’Neills’ are now manufacturing scrubs for healthcare staff and Denroy Plastics are now manufacturing face shields. So, I believe that employers will also transition to a new way of recruiting. Many leading companies had already increased their virtual hiring activities; for example, video interviews are now relatively common in certain industries. Other businesses will also make the switch. It could also be time for local companies to explore areas such as virtual onboarding too. These methods will benefit a business, help reduce overall recruitment costs and improve hiring efficiency as well.”

Richard Ramsey, Ulster Bank’s Chief Economist adds further context:

While 2019 ended with a record number of jobs and unemployment close to its recent all-time low, Northern Ireland’s labour market had already started to come off the boil in late 2019. 2020 had expected these recent trends to continue.  However, the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic has triggered a sudden economic stop.  The labour market is traditionally a lagging indicator of economic activity. But such is the speed and ferocity of the current downturn, the lag between falling output and job losses is unusually short. Where demand has fallen off a cliff, jobs have followed.

“The latest ‘NIJobs.com Jobs Report with Ulster Bank’ has captured the changed mood in firms’ hiring intentions. Hospitality and Retailing, Wholesaling & Purchasing were two employment categories with new lows in job listings. The quarterly data conceals the sheer speed and scale of the declines and listings in the drop that has occurred in March.

“Looking at the March data reveals steep falls on a month-to-month basis. March posted a 63% fall in listings relative to February with the hospitality sector posting a monthly decline of almost 90%. Given the environment that is not surprising. Some sectors have held up rather well. Skills shortages and vacancies within the niche field of Big Data and Analytics have never been higher. The same holds true for Legal vacancies. 

“Meanwhile, demand for Nursing, Healthcare and Medical positions has surged. Interestingly, the Nursing, Healthcare and Medical employment category eclipsed IT for the first time as the top category for job listings. Given the current health emergency, this is perhaps not surprising.”


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