On-farm labour shortages and the scarcity of qualified staff are affecting businesses and farms across the economy. It is particularly acute in some sectors such as meat processing and dairy farming. This is resulting in employers looking beyond the European Union to find suitable candidates for vacant roles. Read more about this here.

In Q2 of 2023, agriculture, forestry and fishing was the economic sector that saw the largest decrease in the number of people employed.

The decrease, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO), was by 6,600 or 6.3% less employment.

A vibrant workforce is needed to drive Ireland’s most important indigenous industry forward.

It is essential to have competent and skilled staff across all areas of the agri-food sector, as it plays a vital role in the Irish economy.

The continuous trend of “an employee’s market” can be used to describe the current agri-food jobs market.

Applying for a job

When applying for new positions or roles, candidates hold the bargaining tools. They are seeking personal development, flexible working structures, competitive salaries and employee benefits when looking at roles.

This is good news for any of the recent and future graduates about to enter the workforce or at the early stages of their careers. Read an overview of ag science students’ thoughts on the jobs market.

Demand for employees

Due to the large demand for employees, unemployment levels are low and companies have to remain competitive, putting pressure on attracting and retaining employees.

According to our survey, completed by over 70 human resource (HR) managers, they have found the last year challenging in terms of finding qualified candidates for positions.

The overall unemployment rate for October was 4.8%, according to the CSO, which means the sector is competing with other industries for talent.

Companies are having to position themselves strongly in the market.

In some cases, this has resulted in changing policies and structures to provide more attractive working environments. See case studies here.