Belfast Telegraph

Survey: Salaries still suffering but job market is stabilising

By Symon Ross

Northern Ireland's jobs market is showing some "positive signs", but salaries in many sectors still reflect the deep impact of the recession, a salary survey by a Belfast recruitment agency has found.

Abacus Professional Recruitment said that salaries had dropped by up to 15% in many sectors during the downturn, and benefits have been capped or withdrawn completely in many cases.

However, it also found that more companies are now planning for fresh staff appointments, a sign that stability is returning to the labour market.

"Many local firms are certainly more confident and outward looking. Recruitment is returning to their radar, although with justifiable caution," said Abacus business director Alan Braithwaite.

"They are smartly managing a blended recruitment strategy by taking on temporary staff and appointing people on interim contracts of perhaps 3-6 months. Importantly, the volume of permanent recruitment is rising as well, and decisions are being made faster - both positive indicators for the future."

Among the findings of its latest survey were salary cuts of 10% to 20% in the legal profession, with minimal opportunities for newly qualified solicitors , although specialist roles were still in demand.

It also predicted a more positive 12 months in banking after a year of severed job losses, found there is still strategic demand for experienced staff in insurance, and said employment opportunities were starting to return in HR and marketing.