• Despite +7% YoY national growth in job vacancies, many counties in the Border region are experiencing declines, particularly Cavan and Leitrim
  • IrishJobs.ie suggests region does not have the necessary infrastructure to support long-term business growth and job creation
  • Hotel and catering jobs dominate job vacancies; accountancy and finance sector mounts a recovery
  • Industry and policymakers must repair chinks in Ireland’s armour as Brexit looms, says IrishJobs.ie GM.

The Border region counties of Cavan, Donegal, Leitrim, Monaghan and Sligo are at risk of economic decline even as the broader economy experiences growth in job vacancies, according to the Q2 2018 edition of the IrishJobs.ie Jobs Index published today.

National job vacancies in Q2 2018 grew by 7% year-on-year and by 1% quarter-on-quarter. Job vacancy growth came primarily from urban areas, like Dublin (+6% YoY), Cork (+24% YoY) and Limerick (+32% YoY), but rural counties such as Kerry (+32% YoY) and Meath (+24% YoY) also posted increases.

However, the latter trend is not universal. Job vacancies in the Border county of Cavan dropped by 27% YoY and 29% QoQ. In neighbouring Leitrim, vacancies dropped by 17% YoY and 19% QoQ.

Counties Cavan, Donegal and Monaghan have the lowest job vacancy rates in the country. In these cases, a low job vacancy rate could indicate that the area lacks the necessary infrastructure for enterprise and/or the skills required to fill vacant positions.  In both Cavan and Leitrim, the rate has dropped by almost 15% year-on-year.

“The Border region has always been economically peripheral relative to the rest of the country,” said Orla Moran, General Manager of IrishJobs.ie. “However, the IrishJobs.ie Jobs Index has recorded a continued downward trend in many of the counties, particularly Cavan and Leitrim. This is a direct result of a continued lack of investment.

“Continued failure to address under-development in the Border region could trigger a cascade effect, whereby businesses and professionals take flight to more lucrative parts of the country—essentially a ‘brain drain’. This would cause long-term damage to the region that would be difficult to reverse.

“The Irish Government needs to make it easier to do business in these counties by incentivising entrepreneurship and providing the infrastructure necessary for a modern economy, like access to high-speed broadband and road and rail links to major population centres.”

National and sectoral growth

Overall job availability remains high. Hotel and catering jobs dominated vacancies in Q2 2018 (27% of all vacancies, +11% YoY), demonstrating the immense value of tourism and hospitality to the economy. While this sector typically peaks in the run-up to the summer months, the significant increase compared to the same period last year suggests sustainable growth and value.

The accountancy and finance sector, having declined in 2017, mounted a recovery in Q2, making up 6% of all job vacancies (+7% YoY).  This may suggest that UK-based companies, facing the increasing likelihood of a ‘hard Brexit’ or ‘no deal’ scenario, are advancing their contingency plans to establish a presence or headquarters in Ireland. This may well be mirrored in other highly skilled industries, like technology.

However, IrishJobs.ie cautioned against the overall risk of Brexit to the future growth of Ireland’s economy.

“The same problems apparent in the immediate aftermath of the 2016 EU referendum are still apparent in 2018,” said Ms Moran. “We do not know under what conditions businesses in the Republic of Ireland will be able to trade with or sell to businesses and consumers in Britain or even in Northern Ireland. So long as Brexit is an unknown quantity, job creation could stagnate in some parts of the economy.

“Ireland’s decade-long journey from deep recession to rapid growth is a testament to the benefits of an open economy and a business-friendly government. To maintain this upwards trajectory, and guard against major risks like Brexit, industry and policymakers must work to repair the chinks in Ireland’s armour, namely by ensuring we meet the skills requirements of a modern economy, and by providing the structural prerequisites for enterprise and job creation in regions outside the capital.”

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