Veterinary recruitment returns to pre-outbreak levels

Veterinary recruitment returns to pre-outbreak levels
Ciaran Conroy

Veterinary recruitment in Northern Ireland is back to pre-lockdown levels, with new positions now more likely to be filled by candidates living in the UK and Ireland rather than those migrating from other European countries.

That’s the assessment delivered this month by Ciaran Conroy, founder and director of specialist veterinary recruitment consultancy, Lloyd & Cowan.

Speaking to NI Veterinary Today, Ciaran confirmed that changes to working practices in veterinary surgeries around the country in the wake of the Covid-19 outbreak were driving a surge in demand for additional staff.

And he pointed out that many clinics here also found themselves short-handed as the virus tightened its grip and some of their migrant staff members decided to return to their home countries

‘As a result, we’re now seeing increased recruitment among UK and Ireland-based candidates and among those from other countries in Europe who are now living here,’ says Ciaran.

Some veterinary staff from Northern Ireland who had been employed in GB practices prior to the lockdown are now beginning to return home, further boosting the availability of indigenous talent, he added.

‘For a lot of veterinary workers in GB cities, Belfast began to seem very far away. It wasn’t as easy to come home and so people began to think that the time was right to consider moving back to Northern Ireland for good. These people are now coming into the market here as a result.’

Ciaran says that Covid-19 has changed many people’s outlook and that they no longer want to be ‘marooned in the UK or Europe’.

‘Going forward, it’s difficult to know how Covid will affect things in the winter, that’s the great unknown,’ he adds. ‘We also have the added complication of Brexit, which may make it difficult to secure visa for some people, for example.’

In the longer term, however, Ciaran believes that if the UK continues its regional approach to dealing with virus outbreaks, migrant staff will return to work in NI practices:

‘Why wouldn’t they come, if it’s possible?’ he asks. ‘The work is here, the money and conditions are good and there are a great many positives to working in NI compared to the conditions in some other countries.’

Ciaran, who opened Lloyd & Cowan in 2016, says that he is ‘really positive’ about the rest of the year despite the uncertainties.

‘We’re the biggest in the market, we deal with every corporate in the UK and Ireland and a great many independent practices and we are optimistic about the situation as we see it. Obviously, we do have concerns, there are a lot of unknowns in this, but we are still able to source people and no matter how bad the Brexit situation gets, there will still be a requirement for veterinary expertise and that is where we come in.’