High demand sees white collar jobs grow fastest in UK
Northern Ireland's white collar job market is increasing faster than any other region in the UK, according to the latest figures from a major recruitment firm.
Hays saw a 22% boost in the number of jobs filled in the 12 months to June this year, while permanent posts were up 35%.
That puts the growth higher than the UK and Ireland average of just 11%, with Northern Ireland leading the increase among the regions.
And it's been buoyed by a strong increase in demand for IT staff, as well as construction and property, and finance, according to Hays' global finance director Paul Venables.
"I guess it's a continuation in Northern Ireland. The fees generated in Northern Ireland were up 22% overall. It's still the fastest growing."
Mr Venables said the level of white collar unemployment here would be "less than 5%".
Northern Ireland's unemployment rate currently sits at 6.5%, according to the latest statistics from the Office for National Statistics.
The number of people unemployed here rose by 1,000 in the three months to June this year.
Mr Venables said: "We focus on white collar professional recruitment. There is a real shortage of people with the right IT skills.
"Most of our permanent hiring is small companies growing in IT and people being more confident and advancing their career.
"One of the benefits Northern Ireland has got, along with a tax incentive, is we have seen a growth in shared service centres."
According to Hays, the demand for IT jobs has increased by around 30%, while construction and property rose by a quarter.
Meanwhile, finance and accounting witnessed an increase of 10%.
"From a professional space, white collar professionals earning between £30,000 to £40,000 and upwards, the job market is very good at the moment," he said.
"We have been seeing the recovery since September 2012. From January 2014 onwards it has been an increasingly good permanent jobs market, even in the blue collar space."
Hays currently has three offices in Northern Ireland, including one in Belfast city centre.
It counts BT, Moy Park and EY among some of its biggest clients in Northern Ireland.
It has now grown its own Northern Ireland workforce to more than 60 staff.
And Hays also saw its operating profits grow by 17% to £164m, while turnover was up 5%.
It was buoyed by a 75% like-for-like increase in net operating profit to £45.7m in the UK and Ireland, where net fees rose 11%.
The group said its consultant headcount in the UK and Ireland rose by just 2% to 2,203 in the year to the end of June as it "paused investment" in the run-up to May's election poll.