With the implications of the changes to IR35 becoming clearer each day, more companies developing long-term IT strategies and many large organisations going through digital transformation, the permanent job market for people with experience in IT has never looked so buoyant.
However, to say the effects of the Brexit referendum have had a minimal impact on our rapidly growing IT sector would not be painting an entirely clear picture of what has happened since July 2016. Our recent article, published on the 2nd April, on job hunting and recruitment intentions, highlights what appears to be a clear picture of candidates becoming more passive and opting to stay in their current role rather than move to a new position and, potentially, fall into the "last in, first out" bracket.
This means we have a possible mismatch between the hiring companies’ views and the candidates’ views, with the former often desperate for new people and the latter tending to stay put.
What impact does this have on the current market? Employers now have two clear options when the need for personnel arises within niche areas of IT*.
1) They can look at bringing in the skills and experience they need through experienced contractors to assist them with their short-term requirements and, if their need is going to continue for the longer term, thus allow sufficient time to find a suitable permanent candidate, or
2) Review the experience and structure of the current team and the tasks to be completed, in order to determine whether someone less experienced (yet with the necessary drive, determination and enthusiasm) can be hired, then trained and moulded to become a pivotal team player in the short to medium-term. The latter option does take longer but can often be a better solution than waiting and hoping that the right candidate shows up four months down the line, all the while other team members are bearing the brunt of raised workloads and thus raising the possibility of the work not being completed on time and to a satisfactory level.
What does this mean to anyone looking for his or her next permanent role?
Well, with continuing IT skills shortages and the demand from employers for relevant skills higher than ever, it means skilled workers who want a perm job are in an increasingly strong position. Gone are the days when it was only the candidate who had to sell him or herself at an interview in the hope of securing the job. Recruitment is now about matching up clients and candidates who share the same aspirations and expectations. The hiring company invariably wants to understand not just a candidate’s ability to do the job, but also his or her desire actually to be in the role and how she or he fits into the team (this last part can be an important area that some candidates overlook before attending an interview). Conversely, the candidate will attend the interview seeking to understand if the company really matches his or her ambition, as well as providing the right working environment which allows her or him to develop and grow. In the last 5 years, more companies are offering benefits and additional perks on top of base salary, which, in many organisations, was almost unheard of previously. These perks might include flexible working, remote working, in-house training, external certifications and exams paid for by the company, lunch/breakfast brought in - and even having a pool table in the office and beers on a Friday to help employees unwind! In order to attract the best possible talent, companies are also developing their employer brands and promoting themselves more actively within the IT world to demonstrate why they are a great place to work and what they can offer to candidates.
This is more than just the latest trend or fad: it shows clearly that the demands on companies across Scotland which need to build up their IT divisions are higher than ever and will only increase as businesses continue to appreciate the benefits technology brings. With this in mind, it allows anyone working in key areas of IT to benefit from securing a new, permanent job/promotion in a whole host of ways they may not have thought possible. While, from a professional point of view, it is vital to gain "hands on" experience in new technology as well as learning the theory behind it and enhancing your CV by passing exams and gaining certifications, it’s also easier today to obtain a work/life balance previously not thought possible. That – plus the IR35 changes – help explain why experienced contractors have been opting to return to the permanent market as salaries for high level staff become more reflective of their skills and expertise. When you consider the lack of stability in some key areas of contracting and then weigh up those new benefits - all the holiday packages, pension allowance, training, etc. that accompany staff positions - it adds up to making a permanent role even more attractive.
What will happen once we leave the EU is anyone’s guess, however, we will certainly adapt and change as our markets and working environment evolve, and what is becoming more and more apparent is that IT will play a central (often the central) part in the continuing success for a great number of companies across Scotland and the UK. And a growing number of perm positions are going to be central to that success!
Graeme Harper, Consultant, Be-IT Resourcing
* At present this does not entirely apply to Project & Programme Management, Business Analysis, Testing, Service Management, Project Support/Coordination, Desktop or Network Support.