Business skills, need and gaps

Businesses are grappling with pervasive skills gaps evident across various sectors and professions, a trend not surprising given the current state of the economy at full employment. Particularly noteworthy are the acute skills gaps prevalent in science, engineering, and technology professions. Beyond these sectors, the survey results highlighted significant skills deficits in finance, marketing, sales, and customer service.

When asked how likely skills shortages are to continue over the next 12 months, a notable 64% express concern, with 21% deeming shortages very likely and 43% likely. 31% consider shortages unlikely, while a mere 5% are highly optimistic.

Business Confidence

Companies’ confidence in their own business remains high at 95%.

Not Confident
Confidence in the Irish Economy

Despite international instability which has impacted supply chains, market dynamics and overall economic conditions, it is noteworthy that confidence in the Irish economy has exhibited resilience throughout the fourth quarter.

Rising business costs pose the top reason for a lack of confidence in the economy cited by 21% of business respondents, followed closely by housing supply (20%) and inflationary pressures (13%).

Employment Data

In Q4, 41% of business respondents had vacancies advertised and 39% reported difficulties in filling them (i.e. remaining unfilled for more than 3 months since initial advertisement).

Despite this challenging labour market, 47% of respondents plan to increase employee numbers over the next 12 months and only 1% expect them to decrease.

Specialist skills shortages have consistently remained the foremost obstacle in filling vacancies and continue to pose challenges to 67% of respondents.

The availability of housing has been highlighted as the second most prominent challenge to filling vacancies (19%) followed by wage demands (11%).

% Turnover and Net Profit

Survey respondents have noted a stable trend of turnover and net profits over 2023. Despite rising operational costs and changes in consumer spending patterns, 56% of respondents reported an increase in turnover and 38% an increase in net profits.

Heading into Q1 2024 the sentiment is positive and 57% of respondents expect an increase in turnover, 34% expect no change and 9% anticipate a decrease. Net profits are expected to rise in Q1 with 51% anticipating an increase, 37% no change and 12% expect a decrease.

Top 3 threats to business growth
Skills availability
(joint) Housing and Cost of energy and raw materials
Changing consumer spending/reduced orders
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