The number of available professional jobs increased by more than a quarter in the first three months of the year compared to a year ago, according to new figures from recruiter Morgan McKinley.

The sectors which experienced particularly strong growth in the number of jobs to spare include firms in the areas of financial services, human resources and engineering.

Trayc Keevans, a director of Morgan McKinley, says that the month of March typically sees more professional job seekers registering because bonuses are paid out and they are seeking new opportunities. What is significant is that the number of job seekers who registered this year is 20% more than the same month last year which she said reflected a confidence in the work force. It is also a positive sign for the economy as a whole with a lot of investments in a number of areas including IT, HR as well as learning and development, she adds. Companies are investing in career pathways as they recognise that skills shortages are developing in some areas and they need to be in a position to capitalise on that and attract that workforce. 

While the remit of HR is broader than recruitment, Ms Keevans says that hiring more HR staff is a signal that a company is expanding. On the back of last year's record level of foreign direct investment, she says the country is seeing more overseas companies setting up here in the areas of data analytics and digital marketing. But a new trend is also emerging which sees investment banks seeking to set up front office trading functions in Dublin - a trend which Ms Keevans describes as very exciting.

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MORNING BRIEFS - Recruiter Hays says it has 60 new full-time positions to fill in its offices in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick. 

*** The EU is expected to set out later today the action it will take against Google over alleged anti-competitive behaviour. reports suggest that the competition commissioner will announce that a "statement of objections" is being prepared. This would mark an escalation in the Commission's handling of complaints that Google favours its own products in search engine results. Google accounts for more than a 90% share of EU-based web searches. The European Commission has been investigating the antitrust allegations - made by Microsoft, Tripadvisor, Streetmap and others - since 2010. 

*** Intel, the world's biggest maker of semiconductors, has reported first-quarter earnings that were slightly higher than the same time last year. Intel has for several years struggled with slowing demand for PCs, as consumers turn to mobile phones and tablets. But the company said it was optimistic, adding that "600 million PCs are out there, growing old by the day, and they're more than four years old." Intel executives hope a new release of Microsoft's PC operating system, scheduled for this summer, will improve demand for the company's chips.

*** New figures show that the Chinese economy grew at its slowest pace in six years in the first three months of this year as the country tries to shift the economy away from smokestack industries towards domestic consumption and services. Growth slowed to 7% from 7.3% in the final three months of last year. This comes just after the IMF said India was expected to outperform China in economic growth for the first time in 16 years.