Permanent jobs are on the rise in Northern Ireland – a sure sign of economic recovery, according to professional recruitment agency, Hays.
Certain skilled professionals are so sought-after, their employees are offering inducements to prevent them taking their skills elswhere, according to the recruiter's finance director Paul Venables. But investment in equipping people with the skills and qualifications to populate the skyrocketing IT sector here, still falls short of the job opportunties currently in the market, he said.
Hays said that in Northern Ireland, one in every four employees, especially in the accountancy and finance sectors, are being offered new jobs but are receiving pay rise 'counter offers' to stay put.
Mr Venables was commenting following Hays' preliminary results, which showed a 12% increase in pre-tax profits to £132.3m over the first half of the year.
Northern Ireland was the best-performing region, with business up 48% over the same time in 2013. The rise in profits marks a recovery for the UK and Ireland operation two years after it slumped to a loss amid worsening economic conditions.
Hays' Northern Ireland staff had also grown by 15 this year, with its Belfast base rising to 50 – the highest headcount since the onset of the downturn in 2007, Mr Venables said.
He added that Northern Ireland's professions serviced by Hays had enjoyed an increase in wage inflation, spread broadly across all the main sectors of between 2%-3%. Permanent jobs, he revealed, had shot up by a staggering 65% compared to the same period last year.
"A year ago we saw more temporary jobs, many more shorter term positions but this year we have seen a real growth in the number of permanent jobs," he said.
Mr Venables said Hays Northern Ireland's recently-appointed managing director John Moore had identified a growing trend of 'counter-offers' across a number of sectors, though primarily in accountancy and finance.
"Employees, say a fully qualified accountant, have been going to their employers and saying 'I've been offered another job' and the employees have been offered £10,000 more a year to keep them.
"It's not just the odd person – these counter-offers are happening in one in four jobs," he said.