Around 169,000 people are employed in Business and Financial Occupations of which the majority are concentrated in financial, insurance and real estate activities (35%), and professional, scientific and technical activities (21%).
Growth rates diverge depending on the profession, business associate professionals, management consultants, business analysts and project managers grew at rates of over 9% between 2011 and 2016. However, there were negative annual average growth rates for administration roles in finance along with brokers and insurance underwriters. Between 2015 and 2016 the overall growth in employment was just 0.6%.
Figure 1: Data from National Skills Bulletin, 2017. SOLAS Skills and Labour Market Research Unit.
The report notes the impending impact of Brexit on the sector, which brings positive and negative prospects. A postive is that many financial institutions are considering expanding existing operations in Ireland or establishing new operations to maintain an EU presence post Brexit. The most pressing negative is that the sector is extremely exposed to any threat to exports to the UK.
Following from the National Skills Bulletin, 2017.
Key points for selected business and financial occupations
- In 2016, approximately 169,000 persons were employed in the selected business and financial occupations, representing 8.4% of Ireland’s workforce
- Almost 60% of overall employment was concentrated in two sectors: financial, insurance and real estate activities (35%), and professional, scientific and technical activities (21%)
- Administrative occupations (mostly bookkeepers, payroll managers and wages clerks; bank and post office clerks) accounted for almost one third of overall employment; an additional one third was at professional level (mostly accountants and tax experts), while one quarter was at associate professional level with the remainder at managerial level
- Between 2011 and 2016, the magnitude of change in the overall employment in business and financial occupations was similar to the national average (1.2% compared to 1.8% increase on average annually); however, strong growth rates were observed for other business associate professionals (9.9% on average annually) and management consultants, business analysts and project managers (9.8%); in contrast, negative growth rates were observed for financial administrative occupations (3.4% on average annually), brokers and insurance underwriters (2.6% on average annually) and financial accounting technicians (1.8% on average annually)
- Between 2015 and 2016, overall employment reduced by 0.6% (a net 1,100 jobs); the largest employment increases were observed for financial accounts managers (24.9%); in contrast, the largest decline was observed for other business associate professionals (25.9%)
- Over four fifths of persons employed in business and financial occupations were aged 25-54 years, with 13% employed aged 55 or older; actuaries, economists and statisticians had the highest share in the 55+ age cohort at 25%
- Almost 95% of those employed at professional level and approximately 80% at associate professional level and in management were third level graduates; the share was 56% for those employed in administrative occupations
- Approximately three quarters of those employed in financial administrative occupations as well as HR and industrial officers and HR managers were female – the highest share of females among the selected occupations; those employed in the former two occupations had the highest propensity to work part-time
- In quarter 4 2016, at 2.5%, the overall unemployment rate (15-74 year olds) for the selected occupations was below the national rate (6.7%).
The future demand for business and financial skills is likely to be particularly affected by the impact of Brexit. On the one hand, numerous financial institutions are expanding their business or setting up in Ireland, including JP Morgan, Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, with IDA announcing in July 2017 that they have secured deals with more than a dozen London-based banks and finance houses to move some of their operations to Dublin in preparation for Brexit42. On the other hand, a report by the Department of Finance (2016) states that insurance/financial services are one of the three services sectors considered to be the most exposed in terms of exports to the UK. As such, the overall impact on skills requirements in the financial sector is yet unclear.
Employment growth for the selected occupations in the most recent five-years was below the national average, although this is primarily due to a continued fall in the numbers employed in financial administrative occupations. There were a relatively high number of movements between employers in 2016, particularly for business analysts, accountants and financial administration. Vacancy notifications were also occurring frequently in 2016, for roles such as financial project managers, compliance/regulatory reporting and financial analysts. Despite the lack of employment growth, there were over 22,000 recent job hires in 2016, half of which related to accountants and financial administrative occupations; three quarters of those recently hired held third level qualifications.
While demand for general accounting skills is in decline with many tasks now being automated, there are increasing requirements in specific areas of accountancy and for those with crossover skills such as corporate resource managers. In terms of financial administrative occupations, current indicators point to an easing of shortages with little sign of employment growth. Although some employers have reported difficulty in sourcing suitable candidates for these roles, turnover appears to be a greater issue. However, financial administrators with multilingual skills appear to be still in demand. The demand for HR officers also appears to be easing with very little evidence of growth in employment numbers despite a high volume of vacancy notifications, suggesting that most vacancies are arising due to replacement, such as maternity cover.
There were 814 new employment permits issued to non-EEA nationals for work in the selected financial occupations (primarily in roles as business analysts/project managers and accountants) in 2016. The supply of skills from the education and training system is significant: in 2016, there were almost 22,000 further and higher education graduates from business and administrative courses, of which more than 12,000 were at NFQ level 8 or above. In addition, there are a number of new apprenticeships including insurance practitioner, accounting technician and international financial services associate spanning levels 6-8 on the NFQ, with a further three financial-related apprenticeships in development. Approximately 1,400 persons previously employed in financial administrative occupations were job ready job seekers in April 2017; a further 1,900 financial professionals and technicians job seekers were on the Live Register, although only 670 held NFQ level 8 qualifications or higher.
Shortages have been identified in the following areas:
- accounting: financial and management accountants with expertise in solvency, taxation, IFSR43 relevant skills and regulatory compliance; accountants for roles in industry with ERP system and reporting tools, as well as language skills; actuaries
- business intelligence and risk analysis: financial systems analysts; entry level and experienced revenue managers (specific sectors, e.g. hospitality)
- data analytics: experienced (5 years+) statisticians; economists and data scientists (big data, data visualisations and quantitative modelling)
- FinTech: business and financial professionals with skills in specific software packages and experience (including international)
- financial management/financial analysis: trustee managers; deposit managers; payroll managers
- multilingual financial clerks: credit controllers; accounts payable/receivable; payroll specialists; fund accounting and transfer pricing specialists.