A survey of 2,500 companies suggests that 76% of employers plan to increase their workforce next year.

The survey, by recruitment company Hays Ireland, indicates that three out of five employees are considering changing job next year as the economy improves.

However, it also suggests that many job candidates are now prioritising work-life balance.

The survey of 2,500 employers, with employees ranging from unskilled to specialists, reflects how the economic recovery is translating into employment.

71% of employers increased headcount last year, but even more, 76%, plan to do so next year.

That rises to 81% for construction firms, a sector that was devastated in the recession.

57% of companies experienced a skills shortage, but only 17% looked overseas for talent.

Over a third hired interns, but only 5% would consider hiring mature candidates.

As for employees, around 60% are considering changing jobs as the economy improves - mainly because they are concerned about pay, or a lack of career progression and challenge in their existing post.

Significantly, many candidates now prioritise time off above job security and the working environment - focusing first on salary, then career development, followed by work-life balance and job security.

Following six years of pay cuts and freezes, over half of workers, 54%, expect a pay rise next year, while 48% expect a bonus.

Only a quarter anticipate promotion.