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2018 Abrivia Recruitment/TCD Salary, Employment and Economic Trends

Pay rises, Brexit negotiations, GDPR, skills shortages, the problems of (almost) a full employment economy and increasing numbers of returning Irish are spotlighted in the 2018 Abrivia Recruitment/TCD Salary, Employment and Economic Trends Survey. Undertaken in partnership with Trinity Business School at Trinity College Dublin, over 7,400 clients and 45,000 employees from multiple industry sectors were contacted and the data was compiled from the responses received.


(Pictured l/r: Donal O'Brien, managing director, Abrivia Recruitment with Professor Na Fu, associate professor in human resource management and Dr Charles Larkin, research fellow, Trinity Business School at the launch of the Abrivia Recruitment/TCD Salary, Employment and Economic Trends Survey for 2018. Photo: Peter Houlihan.)

Survey analysis and economic commentary were provided by Dr Brian Lucey, professor of finance, Dr Charles Larkin, research fellow and Dr Na Fu, associate professor in human resource management, Trinity Business School.

Donal O’Brien, managing director, Abrivia Recruitment, said, “85% of employers surveyed plan to take on new staff in 2018 with salaries in IT and Finance pulling far ahead of other sectors. In line with the general trend of staff shortages in key areas, 64% of employers have employed a non-Irish applicant based outside Ireland in the past 12 months, up from 58% in the previous survey.”

“84% of employers expect salaries to increase in 2018 but at a more modest rate than last year, less than 3%. This contrasts with employee expectations, 73% of whom are expecting a salary increase this year and well over one third of those (37%) are looking forward to a pay increase of between 5 and 10%,” Donal continued.

Another key finding is that despite the housing and rental crisis, the emotional pull of home and family is proving too strong. Irish professionals are returning in greater numbers, with well over half of companies surveyed (56%) reporting they had hired returning Irish nationals in 2017, up from 47% in 2016.

Professor Brian Lucey commented, “In economic terms 2018 is going to be a very interesting year for Ireland. We will finally see the extent to which the United Kingdom is willing to concede the existence of reality, negotiated seriously around an exit agreement from the European Union that preserves economic common sense. This will not be possible of course until the Tory Party Civil War finishes and as it has lasted for at least 40 years, we shouldn’t hold our breath. Without a shadow of a doubt Brexit remains the largest single cloud on the economic horizon. To ignore its reality, as many companies have been prone to do, is simply not an option.”

For the full survey download, with detailed commentary and salary breakdown by role and sector, go to



  • Irish professionals are returning in greater numbers, with 56% of companies overall reporting they had hired returning Irish nationals in 2017, up from 47% in 2016. It was most pronounced in the Finance and Banking sector (71%).
  • The shortage of rental accommodation continues to bite, with 47% of employers saying that it was impacting on their ability to hire staff, up from 40% in the previous survey.
  • The cost of purchasing a home continues to impact, with 37% citing it as a major issue in recruiting staff in 2017, up from 27% in 2016.
  • 70% of employers increased headcount in 2017. While some firms had dramatic expansions, most increased their numbers by 10-20%.
  • 31% of employers surveyed still say ICT roles are the most difficult to fill and probably accounts for the fact that for a growing proportion of ICT firms, over a quarter of their staff are coming from outside the EU
  • 85% plan to take on new hires in 2018, in line with last year
  • 84% of employers expect salaries to increase in 2018 (80% in 2017). However, increases are likely to be more modest, less than 3% (between 3-5% the previous year)
  • Almost 80% expect to pay bonuses in 2018, compared to 72% in 2017
  • Over 54% of employers were willing to provide visa sponsorship this year, up from 51% in the last survey.
  • The involvement of an employee in sport, notably GAA, was cited by 36% of employers as a major harbinger of success as was a willingness to help others.
  • In line with the general trend of staff shortages in key areas, 64% of employers have employed a non-Irish applicant based outside Ireland in the past 12 months, compared to 58% in the previous survey
  • 72% of non-Irish applicants in 2017 had lower wage expectations, compared to 70% in 2016
  • 19% of employers believe that Brexit will have a direct effect on their supply chain but 39% are still unsure.
  • 45% of employers said that the marginal tax rate was making it difficult to attract overseas staff, this is down from 50% in the previous survey.
  • 43.5% of employers in the private sector said that the national minimum wage should increase, up from 39%.
  • 29% of employers said that maternity provisions were putting pressure on their finances, a 2% rise on the last survey.
  • 72% of employers surveyed said they offered employees some form of pension.
  • Another big concern of employers is GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). Although 82% have already commenced preparations for it, over one-third (34%) believe that it will seriously disrupt their business.  Advertising and Healthcare said they are going to be most impacted by the new legislation.



  • The economic attraction of Dublin remains strong, with 72% saying they were unwilling to relocate to afford a house.
  • Salaries in ICT and Finance pull far ahead of other sectors.
  • 2% of respondents were earning over €100,000 per annum and well over one-third of those were in the ICT sector (37%), followed by Finance & Banking (14%) and Accounting (12%)
  • 73% expect their wages to increase in 2018
  • 8% experienced a reduction in salaries in 2017 while 25% said theirs remained static
  • 69% of employees surveyed said that free third level college fees should continue and 9% are in favour of a graduate tax.
  • 48% would accept a decrease of 1-3% in their salary to move outside Dublin
  • 46% said they would need a salary increase of more than 21% to move to Dublin
  • 73% expect a salary increase in 2018 and 37% of those are looking forward to a pay increase of between 5 and 10%, in contrast to what employers are expecting to pay.
  • 46% of respondents surveyed plan to change employer in 2018.
  • 82% seek out reviews from reputable sources before going for interview. 81% said a negative review would influence their decision to even accept an interview request.
  • Glassdoor is the no. 1 source for reviews, with 34% of respondents saying it was their top choice.
  • 59% of respondents said they had a private pension, higher than that of the general population.
  • 52% of respondents believe in pension auto-enrolment, in line with schemes in other small open economies like New Zealand.
  • Those paying rent experienced an average increase of 14% since 2016.
  • When asked what kept them in Ireland, family was the number one reason cited.
  • A small percentage said they were still living at home. Of those, 31%% said they don’t make any contribution towards their upkeep, while 54.5% said they were paying more than €200 weekly. 
  • The strongest support for higher minimum wages came from those working in Sales, Marketing, Legal, ICT and Consulting.

Abrivia Recruitment in Mount Street, Dublin was established in 2006. It is a specialist recruitment company that now employs 25 consultants and support staff recruiting for IT, telecoms, accountancy, sales and marketing, legal, insurance, human resources and office support. A previous winner of the National Recruitment Federation (NRF) Awards for Best Recruitment Firm and Best Recruitment Consultant, Abrivia was shortlisted as a finalist in two categories in the 2017 NRF Awards - Agency of the Year (Medium) and Best Agency Online.

Trinity Business School is ranked in the Top 40 Business Schools globally (Eduniversal 2015/2016) and sits at the heart of Ireland’s No.1 University, Trinity College Dublin, the University of Dublin (QS 2017).  The School is committed to achieving the highest level in academic excellence for its students and offers a wide range of programmes at undergraduate, postgraduate, MBA and Executive Education levels.

For further comment, interviews and images, contact:
Barbara Elliott, Touchstone Communications.
t:   01 2937956
m: 087 2933580


The results of the 2018 survey reflect the indecision on the question of the impact of Brexit, with most of the concern coming from the Sales and Marketing and little from the Legal sector. However, as the possibility of a soft Brexit continues to recede into the distance, that is changing.  Most employees are concerned about their mobility prospects between EU and the UK than they are about mobility prospects between Ireland and the UK,”Dr Charles Larkin said.

In the economic commentary, Dr Charles Larkin discussed perceptions of Brexit amongst the various sectors.  Aside from the Sales and Marketing sector, the Pharmaceutical sector is also very worried about Brexit, given the long-standing Northern Irish linkages to the Republic of Ireland in this area. Ireland is considered an extension of the UK market by many global firms. He said that given language and tastes and preferences between the two jurisdictions, it is not unreasonable to assume that global firms for consumer goods will, at least in the initial period after Brexit, continue to treat the markets as one. However, this transition has already created negotiating concerns.

Dr Larkin pointed out that the Irish economy as it doesn’t behave in the same fashion as other European economies due to its structure and the idea of Northern Ireland as a secret ‘back door’ for trade on the part of the UK is keenly understood by the EU negotiation team.

Dr Larkin said that the PSNI has made it clear that the creation of border posts is out of the question on security grounds. Current Irish customers officers would need to be increased tenfold to handle it. At present, 50% of all international mail comes via the UK and the ports of Dublin and Rosslare handle 46.7m tonnes of goods from the UK on an annual basis.

Professor Brian Lucey also commented, “Very many of Ireland’s small to medium enterprises export disproportionately more to the United Kingdom than they do elsewhere. Any barriers to free trade will impact upon them very severely.  Secondly, we are exposed by the fact that the United Kingdom, having chosen to make itself poorer, becomes a less attractive market and in consequence there will be less sales than otherwise would be the case. Combine this with the fact that Sterling is on a downward trajectory and this will mean imports from the UK displacing indigenous production.

So, the calendar horizon has very little in the way of silver linings. But aside from that, we see a smooth path. The Irish economy is growing solidly, and, except for house prices, there is little in the way of bubbles evident.  We need to be vigilant that the growth in the domestic economy, a large part of which is coming from investment, and a large part of that of that which is coming from investment in housing capital, does not become unbalanced.  To some extent we are still playing catch up, a consequence of the banking crisis.  But we are moving towards a situation where we have effectively full employment. “



When asked what factors outside of academic achievement contributes most to the success of an employee, 36% of employers said GAA/Sport, followed by helping others (23%) while Volunteering and a previous career/enlistment in the armed forces tied in third place with 14% each. The sector that rated involvement in GAA/Sport most highly was Human Resources, while helping others scored highly in Accountancy and Healthcare sectors.


While 42% believe that education is extremely important and a further 32% see education as important in determining career success, high educational achievement does not often translate into high salaries.

Dr Charles Larkin said, “Despite the fixation on achieving 600 points in the Leaving Cert, only 2% of respondents earning more than €100,000 annually achieved that academic distinction. Education is clearly not the sole indicator of success in terms of very high incomes. “

Those working in the Accountancy sector were the most likely to say that their education was extremely or very important to their career success (87%) while those in Architecture, Advertising and Aviation said it was only moderately important to their career success.


The Survey shows that, contrary to perceptions that millennials (those born between 1979 and 1995) are frequent job hoppers, their average tenure with an organisation in this survey was 9.85 years, very similar to baby boomers (born 1946-64) who reported 9.64 years. Generation X (1965-79) reported 8.11 years.

The Survey shows that, contrary to perceptions that millennials (those born between 1979 and 1995) are frequent job hoppers, their average tenure with an organisation in this survey was 9.85 years, very similar to baby boomers (born 1946-64) who reported 9.64 years. Generation X (1965-79) reported 8.11 years.

Professor Na Fu, associate professor in human resource management at Trinity Business School, commented, “Millennials perceive that the positive impact of their job within an organisation as well as the meaningfulness of their work is the lowest, compared to Baby Boomers and Generation X.

41% of employees surveyed strongly agreed with the statement that changing employers did not imply a lack of loyalty to their current employer. This was a view most strongly held by the ICT, Marketing and Pharmaceutical sectors.

People have new attitudes towards organisational commitment,” said Professor Na Fu, “Interestingly, although most respondents were against the idea of working for one company for a lifetime, millennials were more agreeable to this idea than the other two generations.”


  • 7.5% of those surveyed said they were still living in the family home.


  • A quarter of those said it was a lifestyle choice, of which 21% said they were saving for a house and 13% said that rent was unaffordable and nearly 7% did so because they were looking after an elderly parent or relative. 
  • Of those respondents living at home, 31% said they don’t make any contribution towards living at home


  • Of those paying a contribution, over half said they were paying more than €200 weekly, 18% were paying between 100-200 and 27% were paying up to €100 weekly.


“2017 has been the year of the counter offer”, said Andrew Meehan, manager of Abrivia’s Technology services. One client of ours made 12 offers in a three-month period, six of which accepted counter offers from their current employers after signing contracts.”

With the lack of readily available IT talent, salaries and day rates have continued to increase across most areas in this sector.  While Ireland is still regarded as a leading player in Europe’s ICT ecosystem, but this will be placed in jeopardy if it does not seriously address the talent mismatch when it comes to the supply and demand of ICT professionals,” Andrew continued.

The sector is reporting increased demand for niche IT skillsets like Automation Engineers, Cybersecurity consultants and DevOp Engineers that is hampering company growth and project pipelines for some clients. While career advancement was cited as the main reason for moving jobs by 40% of those working in this sector, more interesting work and higher pay were tied as the second most popular reasons.

The Accountancy sector has benefited from a huge recruitment drive by SMEs responding to revenue growth.  Big 4 qualified accountants, with 1-5 years PQE, are still most in demand and very strong growth has been noticeable in Financial and Business Analyst roles. It has also seen a rise in roles outside Dublin in counties like Clare, Limerick, Galway, Kilkenny and Mayo due to the increased availability of jobs and the rising cost of living in the Dublin region.  There has been a 10% drop in temporary and contract roles and where they are available, contract length has increased from 6 to 12 months in many cases. Many maternity cover roles are now turning permanent as workload increases. The consulting services offered by the Big 4 firms, especially in IT and Cybersecurity, are showing the greatest appetite for growth and consequently new hires but lack of talent supply is growing concern and firms are focusing more on retention than ever before.

Tadhg Kearney, head of accountancy and insurance at Abrivia Recruitment said, Tax legislation has come more under the spotlight in the wake of FATCA, BEPS and the Panama Papers, Apple and of course, Brexit. Clients are especially looking for candidates with US or European international tax experience.

While the initial expectation of the mass migration of Brexit clients to Ireland might have been overly optimistic, several large financial services organisations have committed to expanding their Irish base. Banking and Financial Services have seen increased recruitment in fund accounting, fraud and compliance, not only in Dublin but also in Limerick, Kilkenny and Galway.71% of employers surveyed in the Finance and Banking sector had hired returning Irish nationals from overseas, the highest amongst the sectors survey.

The general Insurance market has seen one of the biggest rebounds in recent years after a turbulent 2016. But there has been a noted decrease in the recruitment of underwriters, with many companies promoting people from claims or admin roles and putting more focus on IT systems.

Human Resources has seen a strong rebound since the depths of the recession and a growth of specialist functions, including inclusion, diversity and equality strategies. Talent management and people strategies are now firmly at the leadership table as those people with the skills and experience desired by firms are gravitating towards ‘Employers of Choice’.  Andrea O’Reilly, head of human resources with Abrivia, said,HR specialists with experience in Big Data and Data Analytics recruitment will continue to be highly sought after in the coming year and organisations will continue to implement technologies that will monitor real-time ‘candidate experience.’ The focus on Diversity and inclusion continues to grow. “

 78% of Legal professionals surveyed are expecting a salary increase in 2018 and 46% of legal professionals outside Dublin said they would need a salary increase of over 21% to move to Dublin.
Emily Mason, head of legal at Abrivia, commented, “Recruitment in this sector can be encapsulated into two words – Brexit and GDPR. The introduction of GDPR in May 2018 is viewed as a huge opportunity for legal firms to provide consultancy services to an ever-increasing client base. “

In line with the recovering economy, Office Support has seen a welcome increase in the number of permanent roles. Legal secretaries that have specific sector knowledge like commercial litigation and conveyancing commanding higher salaries.  The temp and contract market has been busy, driven by maternity, holiday and sick leave cover.  Michelle Earley, head of office support at Abrivia, said “Personality and fit with a company’s corporate culture are viewed as important as a candidate’s qualifications and skillset and we anticipate a rise in counter offers to increase in 2018 as employers are willing to pay more to hold onto valuable support staff.”

Demand for digital skilled professionals continues to outstrip supply in Sales and Marketing. But across the board, candidates now have far more choice and hiring managers are now having to really sell the opportunity to their preferred candidate rather than the other way around. Companies are now looking for candidates that can demonstrate strong data analytical skills and commercial acumen.  Additional benefits such as the option to work from home have among been the reasons behind accepting a new position, salary alone is no longer the determining factor. According to Denis MacSweeney, head of sales and marketing with Abrivia, “Finding strong candidates in sales and marketing has been identified as a real problem by 35% of clients. Recruitment processes are getting longer as both sides become far more selective.”