2019 Salary, Employment and Economic Trends Survey

Political influence on economies, Dublin losing its charm, Trump’s ‘China Syndrome’ the need for a new social contract and building a personal online brand are some of the trends spotlighted in the just published 2019 Abrivia Recruitment/Trinity Salary, Employment and Economic Trends Survey.  

Undertaken in partnership with Trinity Business School, the opinions of employers and employees from multiple business sectors and disciplines were sought, including  ICT, human resources, accountancy & finance, architecture/construction, insurance, legal, sales & marketing, office support and call centre/customer support.

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

Abrivia MD, Donal O’Brien with Dr Charles Larkin and Dr Na Fu of the Trinity Business School on the occasion of the launch of the report.

Donal O’Brien, managing director, Abrivia Recruitment, said: “In marked contrast to when we first began this survey, the numbers in temporary or contract work has waned considerably –  85% of those surveyed are now in permanent positions and 86% of companies plan to hire new staff in 2019, as opposed to only 51% in 2014.”

“The good news for employees is that 90% of firms surveyed intend to increase salaries in 2019 and the same percentage intend to increase salaries up to 5% year-on-year. 78% of firms surveyed intend to pay a bonus in 2019, mainly as a reward for staff effort.”

The survey revealed that living in Dublin appears to be losing its charm as most employees surveyed were willing to take a pay cut to move out of the city.  “44.5% are willing to take a cut of up to 10% in their salary with almost a tenth willing to take a further drop.   53% say they would need a pay increase of 20% or more to move to the capital and almost a fifth flatly refused to consider a move at all,” said Donal O’Brien.

Dr Charles Larkin of Trinity Business School said that economics has tended to ignore the political system, but the primary lesson of the past year is that politics does matter. The stress that is being placed on the Irish economy is largely external and produced by the economics of political turbulence from Washington, London and Brussels.

Dr Larkin said: “What’s also becoming evident is that the idea of “the British are coming” has been a myth, there has been no mass relocation of legal and financial services. The advantages afforded Ireland as the last English-speaking country and a Common Law country are overblown. It is time that the Taoiseach begin the process of ensuring that this country is supported during and after the Hard Brexit turbulence.”

To download a copy of the Survey, go to www.abrivia.ie



  • 85% of respondents surveyed are in permanent positions.
  • Most employees have studied business courses of some nature at university, with around 44% doing so. STEM makes up 30%. This is an interesting result since there is a clear case of excess demand and undersupply in the STEM area.
  • 71% of employee respondents feel that higher education should be paid for by the state and free at point of use.
  • Most people are willing to take a pay cut to move out of Dublin, in general between 1-3% but about 44.5% will take a drastic cut of 4-10%. One in ten are willing to take a cut in excess of 10%. As in previous surveys, this is an asymmetric response when people are asked if they would move into Dublin. 53% say they would need a pay increase of 20% of more to move to the capital and 19% flat out refused to consider a move. This is higher than last year and clearly indicates the growing cost wedge that accommodation and travel time costs are imposing on employees and firms from the dysfunctional housing market and lack of spatial planning.
  • 51% of respondents are paying a mortgage. A lucky 7% own their homes outright. 6.6% are still at home with the parents, with 30% of those doing so to save for a house. 24% do so due to a lack of affordable accommodation and 10% do so to look after parents. Those that are at home, 82% contribute to the household financially, with over one-third contributing €200 or more a week.
  • 35% of employees are looking to buy a home in 2019 if they don’t already have one. 59% see house prices as the primary difficulty, with 25% willing to relocate to find a house that was more affordable. Seeking employment with a mortgage in mind is the case in only 11% of potential home buyers.
  • Renters have experienced an average rent increase of 9% but there is a large range presented by respondents with some experiencing much higher rent hikes. On average people dedicate 29% of their disposable income to rent.
  • 58% of employees expect to stay put in 2019. On average people have worked for six employers during their careers and stay with their employer on average two years.
  • 65% of employees surveyed have a private pension. Of those without a pension, 56% of those intend to establish one within in the next year. The Department of Social Protection is in the process of developing a policy of pension auto-enrolment, with a strawman proposal currently under evaluation. The primary question is if people will accept such a system, which is already in use in New Zealand. 56% of respondents were in favour but a more worrying 21% were unsure.
  • Salaries for 52% of employees increased in line with or better than expectations. Three quarters of employees expect their salary to increase in 2019.
  • Most employees check out a prospective employer in advance and take what they discover seriously. 37% rely on Glassdoor, with 24% using IrishJobs.ie for their advance intelligence on a firm.
  • Some 37% feel that age is considered when interviewed, with a near even divide on if it has a positive or negative impact on the outcome.


  • 69% of employers have increased their NET headcount in 2018. The architectural sector has                had the largest increase (63%) followed by marketing (34%) and finance/ banking (23%)
  • The healthcare sector is leading the way in terms of seeking new hires in 2019, followed by education and then architecture.
  • 86% of employers surveyed intend to expand numbers in 2019. The greatest expansions will take place in the Sales/Marketing, ICT and Customer Support departments. ICT positions yet again remain the most difficult to fill.
  • 31% of employers claimed to have no knowledge of Department of Social Protection’s plans to introduce an auto-enrolment pension scheme, with 37% reporting marginal knowledge. Having reviewed the conditions, 47% of firms would support the conditions of the scheme and only 5% would not participate in the scheme. This highlights the need for a strong communications programme attached to the introduction of this policy.
  • 66% of firms would provide visa sponsorship for staff. 57% of firms have not had difficulty with the administrative requirements of a visa application, but complexity does impinge on the recruitment of employees from India more so than other non-EU countries.
  • 86% of firms find staff in requirement of a visa to have the same or lower salary expectations to domestic staff (39% willing to take 6-10% less than a domestic employee). Of those looking for higher wages, over half are looking for up to 10% higher wages. This still makes up a relatively small proportion of potential hires, 76% of firms reporting that they make up less than 1 in 10 of their applicants.
  • Firms are still willing to recruit from abroad though, with 61% having hired a non-Irish applicant within the last year and 69% of those desiring wages that were lower than a comparative Irish hire. The current level of taxation is not seen as a problem for overseas recruitment in 56% of firms.
  • 86% of employers surveyed increased salaries last year, with 80% of firms increasing salaries up to 5% year-on-year. 90% to intend to increase salaries in 2019 and the same percentage intend to increase salaries up to 5% year-on-year.
  • 78% of organisations are planning to pay employee bonuses in 2019, either to reward (81%) or retain (52%).
  • Over half of employers expect to lose employees because of increasing rent (53%) or the increasing cost of purchasing a new home (45%). 46% of employers think the cost of purchasing a new home hinders their ability to recruit staff.
  • In keeping with the World Development Report 2019, firms see AI as a significant issue, most especially in the areas of accountancy, customer support and ICT provision.
  • Despite the intensive efforts and media attention, only 18% of firms found GDPR to have a negative impact on their activities, but that was not a status obtained for free, with firms on average spending 5.4% of turnover to meet the compliance requirements.
  • While there are many reasons why staff continue to work in their current jobs, the joint top reasons are work-life balance and interest in their work. Pay comes firmly in third place as a reason to stay.
  • In terms of public policy, the national minimum wage splits opinion. 44% favour an increase, 45% favour it to remain unchanged.
  • Only 21% of firms find the regulatory requirements of maternity leave placing pressure on their business finances.
  • Overall, about 45% of firms surveyed across all sectors did not recruit any returning Irish. Where it occurred, it was largely in ICT and Legal.
  • 75% of firms find Millennials difficult to manage.
  • In a change from 2018, firms find that “helping others” is the dominant non-academic aspect of a person’s personality/background that fosters success. This is followed by GAA/Sport as a close second.
  • The new real-time PAYE system has only constituted a significant challenge to 11% of responding firms.

Media Contact:

Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn, Head of Library Communications | nilochlc@tcd.ie | +353 1 896 4710