All change as usual – The problems facing IT recruitment companies
I suppose if you asked any recruitment company in any sector they would tell of the problems that are specific to their industry. It’s probably true that each area does have a very individual set of problems, but this is doubly true in the IT sector because it has always been, and let me pick my word carefully here, challenging.
Change and development
Underpinning the many generic issues that most recruitment companies face is an additional problem specific to the IT world. It is an industry that is built on change and development. In fact, change and development are so endemic to the IT world that it is actually the purpose of many businesses that operate within it. That is something that needs some real consideration because in some ways you are dealing with an industry that is knowingly working to obsolete its current product portfolio with every development. Compare that to construction or health care, for example, and you can see a clear core difference in the way the recruiter must approach their processes.
So problem number one then is that the skills and experience of the candidates and the requirements of the client are in almost constant flux. In this industry, possibly more than any other, there is a need for the recruiter to keep abreast of current developments and trends. That said, one of the advantages of being in such a dynamic world is that it encourages the evolution of recruiters who are very adept at accepting and responding to change as fast as the people within it.
At the moment, though, there are some very specific issues that we do need to pay some attention to in the short and long term. One of the biggest is fall out from the introduction of the new IR35 rules and the continuing debate about, well, what they actually mean. Certainly, there has been a very real impact on the consultants in terms of the way the payment for contracts is assessed, but it has also had an impact on the recruiting process for public service companies. To be frank, we are yet to see a significant impact when it comes to finding people for the roles available, but we are still in early days.
Another potential problem is the impact of Brexit. Regardless of which side of the debate you sit on, it cannot be denied that until the actual terms are agreed and the playing field steady, we are looking at a cautious market. We should also remember that the EU fund a lot of development grants and research schemes in the IT area. These will certainly persist for a while, and one hopes that the government will look to ensure that something continues to help our IT industry develop.
Which brings us rather neatly to the other and more long-term problem of the skills gap. Undeniably, we have a problem with a lack of appropriately skilled workers coming in the IT industry. Women are still, sadly, under represented, and overall, we have a shortfall of graduates with the right training for the industry needs. We certainly need to see more girls going into the STEM areas in schools and post compulsory education, and it is going to take a bigger change than a woman at the control of the Tardis to do that. In-house training, more collaboration between education and industry, and programmes to encourage a reduction in the gender gap will all play their part, but they are long-term resolutions.
Who would be a recruiter with all these problems to face? Well, honestly, we would, and that is why you need a specialist recruitment company regardless of whether you are a candidate or a client. For most industries, these issues would be considered a major problem, for the IT world, it’s pretty much the usual situation.