As the number of people at work pushes close to its pre-recession peak, the most highly sought after professionals will pick up pay rises worth around 15 per cent.

Now clear of the recession and the years of instability, research reveals that employee’ prospects are finally back on track with jobs and pay on the rise.

According to the Central Statistics Office, there are now approximately 2.2 million people at work, which is close to the 2007 high.

The reports data showed that the majority of professional workers can expect modest 3 per cent pay rises this year.

However, those with in-demand skills – including chief security officers and cyber security experts in IT, product counsel in the legal sphere and chief risk officers in banking – can command wage hikes between 10 and 15 per cent.

The employment agency Morgan McKinley predicted strong job creation this year.

Morgan McKinley’s 2018 Irish Salary and Benefits Guide revealed that autonomous drive technology, advanced process engineering and cyber-security are among the areas tipped to expand further this year.

Karen O’Flaherty, chief operations offer, explained that last year was strong for job growth for professionals, as close to 40,000 posts were created. O’Flaherty said the forecast this year remained positive and the amount of permanent jobs was predicted to rise.

The survey showed salaries for permanent staff in banking and stockbroking range from €50,000 to €75,000 for a wealth manager with up to three years’ experience.

With more than five years’ experience, their wages soar to up to €150,000. Traders with more than five years can also expect to earn up to €150,000.

Branch managers in retail banks earn up to €90,000 in Dublin, Cork, Galway and Limerick, but not more than €70,000 in Waterford.

Employment was up 2.2pc, or 48,100 to 2.21 million, in 2017 to the end of September. The peak was just under the 2.24 million recorded in the final months of 2007.

That compares with a low of 1.875 million in 2012.

The unemployment rate remained at 6.7pc over the quarter, while the number of people out of work for a year or more is now about 40pc of total unemployment. That is the lowest since the end of 2009.

The CSO has revised how it publishes the labour force data to take account of the 2016 Census and other methodological changes. As a result, there are both more people employed and unemployed than initially thought.