Graduates earn less in Dublin than the rest of Ireland

A new survey shows that while the majority of jobs are in the capital the starting wage is well below average

Graduates earn less in Dublin than the rest of Ireland

Student celebrating their graduation | Image: Chris Ison / PA Archive/Press Association Images

The latest figures from gradireland show that while Dublin has the highest proportion of graduate jobs, it also has the lowest starting wage for those leaving college, at just €24,000.

This figure is well below the average starting salary for Irish graduates, which is €28,461.

The results are contained in the 'Graduate Salary & Graduate Recruitment Trends Survey 2016', which serves as an annual snapshot of graduate recruitment across Ireland.

Based on a  study of over 100 leading graduate employers across the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland, the survey was carried out by gradireland between December 2015 and March 2016 and highlighted the trends in for those starting out in their careers after college.

Average Wage 

The survey shows that overall graduate salaries are the on the rise.

While the actual average salary paid to graduates hired in 2015/2016 was €28,332, the report is predicting a steady rise in that figure, putting the average starting salary for Irish graduates now at €28,461.


The vast majority of graduate jobs continue to be located in Dublin (54.6%). The 'Rest of Leinster' follows behind with with nearly one fifth of the available roles, while less than 15% are available in Munster.

However, despite having over half of the jobs, graduates in Dublin received the lowest pay on average, at just €24,000.

When it comes to salaries, the highest rates on offer were in the rest of Leinster, with average salaries of €29,000. That figure has seen a huge increase of almost €7,500 from last year, likely linked to the significant increase in the amount of jobs available on the commuter belt.

Image: gradireland report


The best paid jobs in the 2015/16 survey are in law, legal services and patents, starting at €38,500. However, they account for just 1.5% of the graduate jobs available within the survey.

Management consulting is the second highest at €31,000, but also represents a very small proportion of the jobs available at just 4.4%.

The construction industry, which was hit very hard in the recession, recorded one of the most significant increases in salary from last year. The study shows average wages are up 20% at €27,500, but remains marginal in terms of graduate jobs on offer.

With almost 30% of the jobs on offer, the majority of graduate positions are in accounting and financial management. This sector is up from 15.7% last year and has taken over the top spot from banking, insurance and financial services.

Engineering recorded a significant increase in terms of jobs on offer, doubling to 14.4% from 7.4%, with a slight salary decrease to €29,500 from last year’s €32,000.

IT is down from almost four percentage points to 10.8%, but the salary remains steady at €30,000.

Image: gradireland report

The survey also found that there has been an increase in the amount of graduates being recruited, with many employers expecting that trend to continue for the coming year.

One of the main reasons for this is due to a growth in business (66%), while over a quarter of employers said that increased strategic focus on graduate recruitment was the cause.

Those companies that said they would be recruiting less graduates cited an improvement in retention rates, but 20% of participants said it was as a result of the current economic climate.

Over half of employers said they anticipate challenges in filling graduate vacancies in the coming months due to increased competition for talent from other employers in their sector, or a lack of applicants with the right skills.

Getting the job

In terms of securing a job, graduates can expect at least two interviews from recruiters before being hired. A quarter of those surveyed said they hire after three or more interviews, while only 1.4% say they hire after the first meeting.

Relevant work experience and post-graduate qualifications are seen as equally valuable when being considered for a role, and it is most important for employers that applicants demonstrate certain core competencies for the role.

Internships remain overwhelmingly popular with 80% of employers now offering such programmes. It's also good news for graduates as 92% of these are now paid, with pay rising to between €1,600 and €1,799 per month.

However, employers highlighted that there are some common shortfalls for graduates in the market at the moment, including a lack of communication skills and problem-solving abilities. Furthermore, they noted a lack of leadership and poor writing skills were often problematic, while many graduates didn't possess the requisite IT skills.

Employers were asked: 'Where do you see the greatest shortfalls among new recruits?' | Image: gradireland report

Speaking about the report, the chair of the Association of Higher Education Career Services Brendan Baker said that the graduates of 2015/16 are entering a labour market that is recovery, but is also still very challenging.

"Employers are demanding more from graduates so they can be as effective as possible, as quickly as possible," and added that the survey can help those making their first steps into the market "to develop an understanding of their career prospects and of recruitment trends and potential earnings - all fundamental elements when making informed career choices."