Views & Opinions

What The Recruiters Say

“The Government does not fully value contractors in this country. More needs to be done to make things more attractive for contractors from an expense's perspective etc. Candidates are extremely thin on the ground at the moment so things need to change, and quickly.”
Quote from Respondent

Recruiters are positive about the outlook for the contracting sector in the next 3-5 years. Recruiters have a confidence index score of +29 in relation to the contracting sector and +21 in relation to the performance of the Irish economy in 2024. 51% of recruiters have seen the number of contractors on their books grow in the last 12 months. With the growth in engagement of professional contractors, recruiters are becoming more aware of their value and importance. Many recruiters report that their experience and an increased focus by their businesses on contract desks has also led to an increased number of contractors on their books. Five industries account for more than half of all contract roles recruited for: ICT, Life Sciences, Pharma, Medical devices, Engineering and Technical activities and Finance.

Recruiters continue to express concern regarding Government policy in relation to tax and benefits available to high-skilled workers and the negative impact it has on the number of candidates who are prepared to consider contract roles. Recruiters are aware that permanent roles are no more secure than contracts (seen in 2022-2023 with high number of tech layoffs) yet financial institutions and government does not recognise this, and contractors sometimes suffer from an unfair perception of financial instability as a result. Recruiters still see candidates fears around their ability to get mortgages and job security as the biggest challenges they need to overcome when talking to them about contract roles.


Recruiters report a lack of tax incentives and rewards for people who take the risk in going contracting affecting candidate’s willingness to take contract roles. Contractor availability is ignored as an attraction factor for Global companies, government focus and emphasis are generally on the permanent employee rather than on the contingent worker. Recruiters emphasized a knowledge gap among client companies. They need a better understanding of how contracting benefits their business and the legal aspects of engaging contract workers. Many recruiters felt it was the role of government to educate client companies and to highlight contracting as an alternative to full-time employment.

The cost of living and the housing crisis are still reported as factors which recruiters believe have a negative impact on contracting. Candidates moving abroad for contracts with better terms and better standard of living options is still a factor. Recruiters expressed the need for continued support in relation to visa availability and specifically the speed at which visas are processed as being key for maintaining the supply of workers for contract roles.

6 Key Contracting Sectors

More than half of all contract roles recruited for are in just 6 industries, Information Technology, Life Sciences, Pharma, Medical Device, Engineering  and Finance.

*note the sum of the % is not 100% as some recruiters are hiring contractors for multiple industries.

Benefits of Contracting

93% of recruiters see the key benefits of contracting to contractors as higher pay – with 76% agreeing that flexibility was also a key benefit. 95% of recruiters saw access to skills as the key benefit to client companies – with 89% of recruiters agreeing that engaging contractors led to faster completion of projects. 85% agreed that contracting benefits companies as an alternative to hiring when there is a hiring freeze in place.

Concerns Recruiters Face from Candidates

The two main concerns that recruiters need to address when trying to place candidates for contract roles are the same as those reported in 2023 – the ability to get a mortgage and job security. In 2024, 87% of recruiters surveyed said that contractors expressed worry about mortgages, and 74% of candidates were worried about Job security. 60% of recruiters had to overcome candidates’ worry around loss of benefits and 57% of recruiters said contractors had expressed worry about leaving a PAYE role, this fear has eased significantly for contractors since 2023 when 72% of recruiters reportedly had this challenge. 41% of recruiters reported challenges with counteroffers down from 56% in 2023, perhaps indicating the market now has a more prudent approach to salary.

Recruiters also reported some other challenges, the fact that the country is almost at full employment means there is a lack of skilled candidates. Some companies went on to offer contractors permanent roles, thereby reducing the recruiters contractor candidate pool. Many reported hiring freezes and felt that some companies were holding off on both contract and permanent  hires waiting for the market to stabilise after some significant layoffs in 2023.


The Hardest Skillsets To Source Were Reported as

1. Automation Engineers
2. Engineering/Electrical/Tech roles
3. IT Security
4. Finance/IT/Accounting
5. Process Engineers
6. Cloud roles
7. Software Developers
8. Qualified Persons

Barriers Facing Recruiters from Client Company

Recruiters still cite cost or the perceived cost of contractors as the biggest barrier that they face when dealing with client companies. Although 30% of recruiters still feel that client companies are concerned about compliant operating structures, this has dropped significantly from 2023, when 48% of recruiters felt client companies had concerns around compliance.

Contract Roles

87% of contract roles are filled within 6 weeks. On average 40% of contractors are taking a contract role for the first time. 93% of contracts on offer are between 6 and 12 months in length.

Future Expectations

Confidence Index

In the contracting sector, recruiters remain highly confident for the next 3-5 years, with a confidence index score of +29. They also remain positive about the Irish economy in 2024, with a confidence index score of +21.

What the Recruiters Say

We asked recruiters for their own statements on the contracting industry and here is what they had to say…

“There is a talent shortage in Ireland within Pharma. Younger Engineers have emigrated to mainland Europe… where the tax rate is 33% for EXPATS. Not financially viable to bring in overseas talent... issue of accommodation for incoming talent. Highly skilled Engineers in Europe and the UK don't see Ireland as a location… even though there are plenty of projects.”
“Government should hire more contractors into the public sector and make it a quicker/easier process. Public sector could benefit a lot from increased contractors.”
“I think it needs to be clear to both employer and contractor of their status, limitations, and changes coming down the line.”
“Not enough people know of contracting, the benefits, or the worries - there's not enough public information. It is not our job as a recruiter to teach from scratch there should be a base level provided to the public …more needs to be done. ”
“We get the same questions every year from contractors about mortgages. It would be great if Government or Revenue could share information & promote contractors or the gig economy.”
“I think Visa status' have a big part to play too. A lot of Stamp 1/ CSV holders are undervalued by employers and also cannot operate as self-employed, which adds to the skills shortage as they cannot move employers for 2 years after obtaining this.”
“The biggest objection we have at job offer stage is Mortgage Application. The government should try harder to influence the lenders that contracting does not equal instability or risk. The contractors are leaving Ireland currently as they are not getting the pay rates they want in Ireland.”
“The visa process in Ireland takes too long. Sometimes we can't source a person with a specific skill for a contract here in Ireland, UK & EU, and we can't look outside the EU or UK due to the restrictions.”
“There is still a taboo around job security in contracts, getting a mortgage while contracting etc! Perm roles as we have seen from 2022-2023 are also not secure or guaranteed.”
“Visa's taking far too long to process. People are in the country 4-5 months before they get their visa and would have been able to contract in that time.”
“I think it comes down to an educational piece. A lot of clients aren't overly familiar with contracting and when researched by themselves it seems like a heavy burden to start contracting. I think we are heading for an IT skills shortage so the government could support businesses by educating them on IT contractors & loosening the restraints around working from abroad for contractors.”
“I believe the market has had a massive shift in the past year however I can see signs of regrowth. I predict 2024 will be a very good year for contracting in Ireland.”
“I believe some companies are unaware of how contracting works and the benefits it can have for their organisation - there needs to be more engagement with companies on a national scale as to show how contracting will work for them.”
“Make it easier from a reporting and taxation perspective to operate as a contractor. The contractor community form an integral part of businesses' recruitment and talent strategies.”
“Allow for more visa types to be able to work as a contractor and allow for more flexibility in terms of remote working. These suggestions would greatly expand the pool of candidates we can work with.”
“The recruitment environment is fiercely competitive so this will also be a key factor in firstly maintaining the contractors that we have but also trying to recruit others.”
“From a financial standpoint- a lot of candidates who are on the lookout will only consider permanent roles for a variety of factors- the main one being mortgages. Only now has there been a solution to help contractors in the mortgage process but more can be done to help them out and increase the market.”
“I feel more help or support should be given to contractors when changing from being in a Permanent job. They need to be putting pressure on the banks to allow contractors get better advice or offer programs that can secure contractors being able to get a mortgage.”
“I think it should be promoted a lot more. It should be seen as the new way of working as opposed to a stop gap and a limiting factor when looking for loans/mortgages etc.”
“I think the contracting solutions companies offer the support needed - contracting should be made more normalised and a viable option for employees”
“Benefits to contracting is flexibility. We seem to be way behind other nations when it comes to the promotion of contract. We find most candidates are risk adverse or unaware of the low risk taking a contract is. Also, a big factor is that companies see CVs as "jumpy" if they have multiple contracting roles.”
“Government could provide upskilling to independent contractors to assist them in attaining certifications in their relevant fields.”
“Same questions every year from contractors about mortgages, it would be great even if Gov or Revenue could share information and promote contractors / gig economy.”
“The government has certainly given more attention to contractors and the gig economy in recent years but they have been slow to develop in some areas and ultimately some barriers remain for those who may wish to explore flexible employment.”
“The Government are unable to see the difference between a Deliveroo rider and a Project Engineering Manager on €300ph leading a €1bn+ project. They are all lumped into one "Bucket". There needs to be a better recognition that contracting is a career choice and not a role taken because there are no other options. The government need to support the development of a professional "Consultant" pool. As we become a more expensive country to do business in companies will find it more difficult to afford to keep/carry very highly skilled professionals on their staff and like most advanced economies we need to create a pool of skills that can move to where the need is.”
“There needs to be access to benefits from the Government in order to protect contractors more going forward and ease fears of those hesitant to switch.”
“They are a flexible and important part of the workforce and I don't think its recognised how important it is to have a contractors market to give competitive edge.”
“There is always more that can be done. It is not promoted as much as the more popular PAYE route of employment.”
“I don't want the laws to change to the way it has in the UK.”
“I feel it is still lucrative to get into the contract market so most people do it for financial gain, the mortgage thing was a concern historically but ultimately its just the unknown or lack of information here that has caused concerned for people in the past.”
“I think there are good tax breaks for contractors but this needs to be more information from government on this.”
“There are a range of benefits and incentives for contractors, more often companies are the challenge.”
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Next - What Clients Say

  • Criteria Driving Demand For Contract Roles
  • Concerns Or Barriers To Engaging Contractors
  • Why Companies Use Recruitment Agencies