There has been a lot of commentary over the last few years about “the squeezed middle” and the pain middle income earners have had to endure as part of austerity in Ireland.
However, with recent promising signs that austerity is lifting, such as the unemployment rate dropping from a high of 15% to just over 8% and Ireland being credited with the having fasting growing economy in Europe, there is a new “squeezed middle” appearing in a lot of different sectors across the employment market.
The new “squeezed middle”
The demographic that we refer to are senior professional to middle management level staff. Typically, those with 7-10 years post graduate experience. An improving economy has led to a general increase in demand and of late particularly amongst this group.
Back in 2011 right through to 2014 this increase in demand was very apparent at graduate level, meaning those with 0-3 years experience. This demand was filled by those leaving college, those who had completed internships or had put in a stint working abroad.
From early 2015 onwards, we saw the demand begin to rise for those with 7- 10 years experience and more senior levels following suit towards the backend of 2015 and the early part of 2016.
As there was very little recruiting or training of graduates and junior staff at the beginning of the recession there are now a dearth of experienced staff available for these mid to senior level roles. Companies now find themselves with an experience or skills vacuum at this mid- senior management level.
Learning and development budgets generally took a hit during the recession. The knock on effect of this is only now being felt as those who were at this mid level before the recession have moved up the ladder or emigrated and those who began their careers during the recession didn’t receive adequate training to now move up the skills ladder.
The lack of availability of mid level talent can be traced back to the economic downturn.
Possible solutions are emerging such as increasing learning and development budgets and just as importantly beginning to look internationally for talent. This includes attracting skilled foreign workers and also enticing Irish emigrants home. Either way the time it now takes to attract and develop staff to alleviate the “squeezed middle” has increased dramatically, as too has the skills needed to find and attract these staff. All of this can add to the bottom line cost of hiring.