There’s no doubt that we all find ourselves in new territory right now. The Covid-19 outbreak has seen an unprecedented effect on the world of business, the like of which we may never see again in our lifetimes. In fact, it’s fair to say that the outbreak has had a direct impact on practically every aspect of how a company does business. From employees working remotely to client meetings, we’re all learning how to manage our work processes without impacting the services we provide.
But what about the recruitment industry? How will the economic impact of Covid-19 affect recruitment in general?
Well, before we answer that, let’s take a look at how the government has reacted so far.
Ireland has historically been known to have a government that is business-focused. Since the early 80s, those in power have always understood the importance of protecting the interests of the companies who employ so many throughout the country. But what we are seeing since the onset of Covid-19 is a government that also has the best interests of its citizens at heart.
Not only has the current leadership put in place measures to ensure that businesses are financially protected, they are taking extraordinary steps to protect the health of the general public.
The closure of schools and the postponement of public gatherings, sporting events, and parades has shown that those in charge are taking the threat to public health and safety extremely seriously.
The recent announcement that Irish banks have agreed to a raft of protective measures for both personal and business account holders is a prime example of the government taking extremely positive action. These measures include the deferment of business loan payments for up to three months for those affected financially. As you can imagine, for small to medium businesses, this lifeline could mean the difference between survival and pulling down the shutters permanently.
The government also brought in a refund scheme for employers. If an employer must lay off an employee on a temporary basis due to the outbreak, they can continue to pay the employee a base rate set by the government. They can then claim this amount back to ease the financial burden on the company.
More measures look likely to be brought into effect in the coming weeks all of which are designed to protect the interests of both employers and the people that work for them.
The decisive and speedy action taken by the government will no doubt lessen the impact of the outbreak on the economy as a whole.
Will companies still recruit?
The Irish economy grew by 9.4% in 2019 and was expected to grow by a similar margin in 2020. As you can imagine, that is no longer the case. Economist for KBC, Austin Hughes believes that the negative impact on economic growth will be around 1.5% – 2%. Even though this represents a significant slowdown in the Irish economy, it’s not quite the Doomsday scenario that some envisaged just a short time ago.
The increase in local production capacity in the life sciences sector in particular should see recruitment goals and targets in that industry remain as they are for the foreseeable future. As for other industries, we will certainly see some companies curtailing their investment in talent as they wait out the economic downturn, but this will likely only be a temporary measure.
Larger companies may well see a dip in production as the global economy takes a hit. However, this will likely result in the postponement of expansion rather than the reduction of their current workforce.
Two industries that will certainly see job losses are the tourism and hospitality sectors. With travel currently restricted in many parts of the world, it’s hard to envisage these industries being too active on the recruitment front for the remainder of the year and possibly even beyond.
On a more positive note, domestic spending in Ireland is set to continue to rise over the course of the year. According to Hughes, consumers will continue to spend more despite the caution surrounding the outbreak and the impending economic downturn.
All of this, with the exception of downturn in the tourism and hospitality sectors, points to a more positive outlook for the recruitment industry in general than we may have first envisaged.
Will Ireland still be an attractive option for overseas candidates?
In a word, yes.
Regardless of the economic impact of the Covid-19 outbreak here in Ireland, companies will continue to seek the best talent as they look to move forward.
The measures put in place by the Irish government will ensure that the majority of companies that would have otherwise suffered a great deal, should come through the downturn without too much damage.
In fact, the strong action taken by the country’s leaders could well prove to be a major factor for overseas candidates making a decision on relocating to Ireland. The government’s policies and decisiveness during this period of confusion has helped to calm the population and bolster several industries which, in other circumstances, may well have collapsed.
Another potential upside to the expected economic downturn is that rents and the cost of property in general may drop over the coming months. Although there’s no guarantee that this will be the case, it’s difficult to envisage rents continuing on an upwards trend during a period of economic instability.
In terms of actual employment opportunities, it’s also worth noting that Ireland, Europe, and the world in general, are currently experiencing a talent shortage and that’s not about to stop any time soon. Locally, Irish institutions produce fine talent year on year, but it’s still not enough to cover the demands of local industry. Regardless of the effects of Covid-19, there’s no escaping the fact that Irish employers will continue to need fresh talent.
So while relocating during this period of uncertainty may not be top of a jobseeker’s list of priorities, there’s reason to feel optimistic about the long-term future of employment and recruitment here in Ireland.
There’s no doubt that the Covid-19 outbreak will affect us all in some personal way. But if we remain positive and follow the advice of our respective governments and medical professionals, we’ll see this through.
If the Covid-19 outbreak has affected your plans to relocate to Ireland or if you have any questions about seeking employment here, feel free to get in touch with us. We’re always glad to help, particularly in this time of confusion.
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