Sector Analysis IT & technology

While vacancies are plentiful, the test is finding candidates with cutting-edge skills for this constantly evolving sector.

Mon, 26 Jan 2015While vacancies are plentiful, the test is finding candidates with cutting-edge skills for this constantly evolving sector.

Employers’ appetite for data management and analysis, user-friendly websites, business transformation and increased security is shaping recruitment in the IT sector.

Andy Almond, partner for the UK and Ireland for Computer Futures and SThree, told Recruiter that as organisations start to “overhaul” how they interact with suppliers there is an increased demand for user interface and user experience professionals to ensure websites and e-commerce processes are engaging and easy to use.
 
Ian Blackburn, senior recruitment consultant at IntaPeople, says: “More and more organisations need to make sure their products and their solutions are customer centric… we have seen a big push on the user interface and user experience skill set within the market recently.”

Another key challenge for businesses, says Blackburn, is managing and storing increasing amounts of data. Many organisations, he says, are using cloud-based technologies to handle the amount of data that is being processed and produced. So-called “open source” database technology, which can be altered to fit the organisation’s specific requirements, is also being used, driving a demand for data analytic roles and data scientists.

An increasingly acquisitive business environment also requires integration specialists to consolidate IT infrastructure after a merger or acquisition. At the same time project managers are recruited to oversee new software development and infrastructure projects, reports Jan Stevens, corporate services director at DP Connect. 

Also in demand, says Mark Braund, chief executive of InterQuest Group, are marketing analytics and econometrics professionals, who trawl through data to identify “patterns, trends and buying behaviours”.

Arguably, one of the hottest topics in the sector is cyber security — an issue that is very much at the forefront of the national agenda. Last year (December 2014) the government announced a number of steps to build skills for this growing sector. These include grants for colleges and universities to improve cyber security and learning, improved careers information and resources, and mentoring schemes, as well as the UK security and intelligence organisation GCHQ’s new app to teach school students basic encryption techniques.

At the time of the announcements, Tony Samuel, sales director of CyberSecurityJobsite.com and Securityclearedjobs.com, told Recruiter that among the jobs most in demand are penetration testers. “Once [an organisation] has implemented the cyber security practice, a penetration tester is someone that tries to hack the site to make sure there aren’t any gaps.” Hirers are also looking to recruit security architects and digital forensics.

Skills shortages are acutely felt in the IT sector. “Every time a new technology is introduced it takes a degree of time for there to be candidates with the level of skills that are required,” explains Blackburn. He adds it is increasingly important for hirers to be “proactive in building a talent pipeline” by visiting schools and universities.

However, Stevens says more can be done to “promote IT as a career option to a wider and more diverse audience” and “ensure better funding for training”. She adds: “Universities are not typically up to date with the latest technologies, so IT graduates still need a lot of coaching and investment by employers.”

On the executive side, there are more vacancies but the list of skills needed has increased, she says. Desirable candidates will have international experience, language skills, legal and financial knowledge, and a capacity for managing bids and tenders associated with third-party suppliers.


Views from the market

Mark Braund, CEO of InterQuest Group: “In our environment the contractor (often the person that’s got the ‘bleeding edge’ skills) can be more valuable to companies if they come in, deliver those skills and move off. They can enhance that skill quickly by moving from project to project.”

Andy Almond, partner for the UK and Ireland at Computer Futures and SThree: “As the market is improving people are saying ‘let’s reinvest in our IT, change how we interact with our supply chain and customers to get it on track with the competition’.”

Ian Blackburn, senior recruitment consultant at IntaPeople: “The days of putting out an advert and finding the right candidate for the role are diminishing. It’s a case of finding those passive candidates with skill sets that aren’t necessarily looking for a new opportunity.”

Jan Stevens, corporate services director at DP Connect: “With higher spend on IT … clients with volume-hiring requirements are turning again to RPO [recruitment process outsourcing] providers to manage their recruitment — which dilutes the relationship with the supplying agencies.”

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