2020 was an interesting year for Ireland’s IT jobs market with the initial impact of Covid causing some companies to reassess their recruitment practices - either pausing or freezing completely. However, most sectors have bounced back since March and we even saw some companies take advantage of a less competitive market and increased their hiring plans. In 2021, we expect to see a release of this “pent-up demand” for candidates as businesses begin to move back towards BAU models. Digital Transformation Digital transformation projects that typically would have taken years to plan happened practically overnight or over a few weeks as COVID-19 restrictions forced companies to speed up their digital adaptions in what became an “adapt or die” environment. 2021 will see a further increase in demand for individuals with digital transformation experience as companies accelerate further the digitisation of their customer and supply chain interactions and of their internal operations. Companies who failed to innovate or tweak their processes to suit the demand of the market felt a larger impact than companies who remained agile and changed quickly depending on the market demands. Consumers have moved dramatically toward online channels during the pandemic, so companies are having to create digital or digitally enhanced offerings in response. Cybersecurity Unsurprisingly with the adoption of remote work and the planning for transition to the next “normal”, we have seen huge demand for infrastructure and security professionals which we foresee continuing in 2021. As organisations pivoted to work from home models, security engineers rushed to establish secure connections and prevent network threats that targeted remote workers. At the same time, with the surge in online shopping and e-commerce transactions, they had to bolster their organisation’s e-commerce platforms. 2021 will see organisations continue to increase their spend on cybersecurity as companies look to how they will operate in a post-pandemic world. With many organisations such as Google planning for a “Hybrid” work-from-home model, i.e. employees working a few days in the office and a few at home, network security will be a priority. MedTech, Life Sciences and Healthcare Given how health has never been more in focus than it has been in the past year, it is perhaps no surprise that there has been a huge demand for IT professionals in the wider health industry. MedTech and Life Sciences companies are continually developing new and innovative treatments and consequentially developing technologies to enable this. We have seen an increase in demand of more “hybrid roles” such as IT professionals with experience working specifically within class 1 medical devices fields. Biotech and digital transformation within gene cell therapy in particular is set to be a large growth area for 2021. Connected health is set to be a large growth area for 2021 also, as medical practices are forced to digitize and with telehealth being forecast to grow exponentially. Candidate-led Market Despite the initial dip in March 2020, the market very much remains candidate driven. Particularly now as candidates are no longer bound to jobs within commuting distance of the office. Regional talent pools have flourished as candidates who would have worked in major cities, now have the opportunity to work remotely meaning they can move to their preferred location and still do the same job on the same salary as before. Regional companies also benefited as they are now able to tap into larger talent pools due to remote working practices. Perhaps what has been most surprising about 2020, is that salaries have stayed relatively stable, but candidates have been seeking increases in their packages over base. With the increase in remote working opportunities, candidates are no longer distracted by “bells and whistles” (free food, ping pong tables etc.) and instead are more interested in actual projects, technologies being used and career growth and progression. Therefore, our advice to employers is consider how you are marketing your positions. Contractors We saw in our 2020 Q3 survey findings that many businesses looked to Contractors to fill gaps in their teams while coping with the uncertainty in the market due to COVID-19. From recent discussions with our clients this trend is likely to continue in 2021. We particularly foresee an increase in demand of contract roles for Frontend/Fullstack Developers, DevOps Engineers and Data Analysts. As a result of the increase in demand, contract rates have been on the rise. With many large and SME organisations reverting to remote work this has opened the market up to all areas of Ireland. A big trend is seeing Contractors based in the regions now being able to work for the large organisations in the cities and receive the same rates of those based in the cities. Therefore, rates in the regional areas of Ireland have increased due to the remote access of new roles in the industry. All-in-all, we are optimistic about the IT jobs market in 2021 with plentiful opportunities across digital transformation, cybersecurity, MedTech, pharma etc. The roll-out of the vaccine should increase confidence and create further opportunities as the year progresses. Download our IT Salary Guide Ireland 2021 (PDF)
Taking on temporary staff can increase efficiency and productivity while offering workers flexibility. Here are some tips for finding the right candidates. Published in the Business Post 18th October 2020 The trend towards increased temporary and contract hiring has been magnified with the onset of Covid-19. Traditionally hired for cost-saving measures, temporary and contract staff are now hired more for their skills and expertise, for the efficiency and productivity they can bring and for the flexibility they give organisations. At Sigmar Recrutiment, we surveyed 1,000 companies in Ireland recently and 91 per cent said they were more likely to hire temps or contractors now than they were before Covid-19. This may be reflective of the need for flexibility in an abruptly volatile and uncertain market. The good news for employers, however, is that the pool of talent available for temp and contract work is probably the biggest it has been in a decade.Attitudes to this type of work have also changed post-Covid-19. In addition to our company survey, we surveyed 3,500 candidates and found that 82 per cent would be willing to consider temporary work if they were offered some flexibility, such as remote working. So, what is the best way to find and recruit these candidates? Here are some dos and don’ts to get you started. Dos: 1: Have a strategy for temps While recruiting temp or contract labour is sometimes brought on by unforeseen circumstances, successful hirers of temporary staff generally have a plan. Plans for 2021 are being formulated at most companies right now, so consider your plan for engaging flexible talent as part of your overall strategy. Who will own it, for example, HR, managers or procurement? Will you hire directly or through an agency? What is your projected spend – is it seasonal or year-round? 2: Have an EVP for flexible workers Employer brand and company culture are central to any talent acquisition strategy, but organisations predominantly focus on permanent hires. Multiple studies show the link between employee engagement and business performance. How costly is it to your brand if a temp worker is disengaged, feels undervalued, yet is customer facing for your company? Make sure you consider your employee value proposition (EVP) for temp workers. Get it right and it will yield a loyal and sustainable pipeline of flexible talent. 3: Be honest If there is potential for the job to turn permanent, shout this from the rooftops. In our recent survey, the possibility of a permanent post was the number one reason for candidates to consider a temp or contract role. On the other hand, if no permanent opportunity exists, be honest with this and manage expectations from the outset. Remember, many temporary and contract workers won’t consider a permanent job either, so honesty is always the best policy. 4: Consider a specialist partner At least consider the benefits a good agency partner can bring. Specialist agencies will already have pre-screened and pre-qualified candidates available immediately, saving you crucial time and effort. The agency takes on the costs of advertising across multiple channels, again saving you money and time. They look after employment contracts, help keep you compliant, and run payroll, saving you further on admin overheads. Good agencies can also validate salary levels and advise on availability of talent in the market. Don’ts: 1: Wait Apart from unexpected emergency cover, don’t wait until the last minute to look for temp or contract staff. Like all recruitment, forward planning will allow you to access better talent in higher numbers either directly or through a partner. 2: Ignore compliance Understand legislation as it applies to temps and contractors. Don’t assume that because they are temps, they have few or no rights. A good agency partner will help here. 3: Forget to measure No matter what size your flexible workforce is, don’t forget to audit it. How is spend on flexible workers controlled, for example, by HR, procurement or hiring managers? Keep an eye on tenures also. 4: Undervalue This is crucial. Remember, today’s temp may be tomorrow’s permanent member of staff. A good experience for a temp will encourage them to return, but also provides a rich pool from which permanent hires may come. While some view contractors as expensive, bear in mind the specialist expertise they can bring with them, and remember they can also transfer their knowledge to your internal staff, improving the overall level of expertise within your organisation.
The latest data from Sigmar Recruitment’s Employer Sentiment Report suggests that most companies plan on hiring more contingent labour in order to deal with the extended market turbulence. Having surveyed 1000 Irish based companies, 91% of respondents said they are more likely to hire temps or contractors than before COVID-19. Commenting on the results, Barry Rudden, Director, Sigmar Recruitment says; “This may signify a fundamental shift in how workforces will be constituted moving forward as employers are wary of future market shocks. Whilst demand has rebounded since March, companies just don’t know how the market will react to a possible second wave of infections, topped with Brexit fears, so there are still challenges ahead for organisations and as a result they are hesitant to commit to permanent hires.” One third of all companies surveyed said it was likely or highly likely that they would increase the % of temp/contract staff they already engage. “This is the norm in early stages of an extended recovery. Seeing this trend emerge at polar ends of the labour market is indicative of a new K-Shaped labour market.” says Rudden. He adds; “When viewed, in parallel with the explosion of the gig economy in the last decade, we now see increasing demand for temporary or contract workers in most white-collar industries, not just the traditional area of office/administration roles.” Companies surveyed expected requirements for temp/contract talent to be highest across IT, engineering & life sciences, accountancy, and HR along with office/administration. Hiring on a temporary or contract basis gives organisations an opportunity to ‘try before you buy’ i.e. hiring initially on a temporary basis before converting to permanent. “Given companies’ uncertainty at present, this model is potentially a perfect solution that enables businesses to ramp up and meet demand while the future looks uncertain. At the same time, it enables jobseekers to find work quickly. In our corresponding survey of 3500 candidates, the majority said they were more likely to consider temp or contract work than before the COVID-19 pandemic struck,” says Rudden. Flexible labour in demand at polar ends of the economy; powering growth in recovering sectors and offering interim cover for harder hit sectors 91% of employers plan to expand contingent worker numbers as increasing uncertainty looms 82% of candidates would consider temp or contract positions if given more flexibility, like remote working Further, 82% of candidates said they would be more likely to consider temp or contract work if they were offered flexibility, such as remote working. This is significant change in attitude considering 60% of respondents had not worked in a temporary or contract capacity in the past two years. Rudden adds, “It likely not only reflects the impact of the current crisis in terms of people having lost employment but perhaps a wider acceptance that flexibility may be required as we move forward.” Whilst market uncertainty prevails, what is certain is that we are in the midst of an extended period of transformation in the workplace with blended workforces i.e. a mix of permanent and temp/contract staff perhaps becoming the norm. “Prior to COVID-19 there were already several examples of major multinationals with a significant proportion of staff engaged as agency temps or contractors. We predict an increase in such models being used by other businesses going forward,” says Rudden. For a copy of the report, contact Barry Rudden on +35314744612 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
With global talent acquisition markets becoming increasingly more sophisticated, and companies vying to position themselves more favourably than their competitors, the need to properly manage and prepare contingency workforce models as a matter of policy is of critical importance now more than ever. In a progressively competitive marketplace, allowing your hiring practices to be ‘reactive’ rather than ‘proactive’, is an inherently unsatisfactory recruitment strategy, especially if you’re hoping for a sustained level of success going forward. Below are some tips that we recommend you consider when assessing your present and future resourcing capabilities: Planning Planning as always is key to the success of your company, but the specific milestones you’re looking to achieve as a company must be very clearly defined before you set out your plan. You must be definite on where you expect there to be resource shortages, based on projects that are imminent within the business, and then focus your contingency workforce planning around where those shortages are likely to be. Implement Correct Rules and Regulations Ensure that there are correct rules and processes in place for the engagement of a contingency workforce. These are usually in place for permanent employees so why not contractors? Companies may have concerns about co-employment scenarios but practically, engaging closely with contractors and welcoming them warmly into the company can be of more benefit to the company in the short to medium term. One reason for this is that the contractor will often have transferable skills which can be passed on to the permanent members of the team. Consider a formal knowledge transfer plan, whether as an ongoing element throughout a contract or structuring something formal in the final month of the contractor’s engagement. Consider VMS Packages Larger companies may wish to consider a VMS (Vendor Management Software) package which enables online contingent worker sourcing and billing. Some of the leaders in this field include Beeline, Fieldglass and IQ Navigator. These products provide a central hub from which hiring managers can coordinate all recruitment activity, suppliers (Recruitment Agencies) can access requirements and upload talent and, crucially, all commercial aspects can be processed and monitored giving complete visibility on spend related to the contingent workforce. Engage the Services of a Contracting Recruitment Firm The hiring of contract staff can require specialist knowledge and access to unique pools of talent. By engaging the services of a specialist contracting recruitment agency, you can ensure that the hired resources are properly vetted and assessed, but more importantly that they have the correct compliance documentation in place, such as tax registration, appropriate insurance coverage etc. To conclude, the landscape for the hiring of contract resources has changed dramatically, and whereas in the past a company might have recruited for contract resources as and when their need arose, a more premediated approach is now the norm. It’s cost effective, drives profits forward and can be measured as a clearly defined contributor to the bottom line. It can also be a reliable barometer for increases in overall productivity.
In the last decade the Irish workforce has dramatically changed and one such development has been the changing nature of the contingent workforce. What was traditionally seen as a low skilled disposable workforce has evolved to become a key strategic element of organisations’ workforce strategies. Defining Contingent Work There are several different definitions of ‘contingent work’ including direct-hire temporary staff, direct-hire fixed-term contract staff, independent contractors and perhaps the most prevalent of all, those engaged through recruitment agencies. This clearly demonstrates that temporary or contingent staff are a heterogeneous rather than a homogenous cohort so a ‘one size fits all’ policy to manage them is unlikely to be successful. The Traditional View A traditional view of contingent staff was that of low skilled workers who were paid less than permanent workers, likely to be female or minority and likely to be working in administrative or support roles – essentially a ‘disposable workforce’. In the early 1990s there was a view that the spread of contingent work practices helped perpetuate a two tier labour market system with contingent workers on the second, more disadvantaged tier. The Contemporary View The more contemporary view is that contingent work represents liberation rather than isolation; it increases flexibility and personal control and, reflective of the value of their skills, some contractors (e.g. in IT) earn more than permanent workers. Contingent work has continued to spread across virtually all disciplines including accounting, law, medicine, banking, management etc. Another manifestation of this is how ‘Interim Management’ positions for C-level executives are now facilitated through a network of executive search firms in Ireland and worldwide. Demand There are a number of factors that underpin the increased demand from firms for contingent workers. Using workers with specialised skills on a project basis (especially in the IT area), filling temporary absences, facilitating employees’ requests for part-time hours and looking at workers on a ‘try before you buy’ basis are several of the reasons organisations choose contingent workers. However the key demand drivers would seem to come from companies looking to create value and competitive advantage through cost efficiencies and through the use of flexibility.Through this flexible model, organisations can adjust the types of skills employed in line with fluctuations in demand without adding to the long-term cost of retaining these particular skills. Relevant Developments in the Recruitment Industry In parallel to the growth of regular recruitment agencies, Managed Service Providers (MSP’s) have been a major development in the recruitment industry, linked directly to the growth of contingent staffing practices globally. Staffing industry analysts define an MSP as “a company that takes on primary responsibility for managing an organisation’s contingent workforce programme”. Generally MSPs provide their clients with a Vendor Management System (VMS), which is “an internet-enabled contingent worker sourcing and billing application”. We have a number of the major global MSPs operating in Ireland at present and this is again symptomatic of the nature of large scale contingent workforce management practices. To give an idea of the scale of the global market for contingent staffing it was estimated $100 billion is spent globally on contingent staffing under management through a VMS, an MSP, or both and the figure is continuing to grow. The estimated global temporary agency staffing labour in 2013 was $327 billion. It is important to point out however that the growth in the use of contingent labour is not only in large MNC’s but in small and medium-sized indigenous companies also. These trends indicate that this paradigm of contingent work is here to stay and if anything set to increase in prominence.
One of the key considerations for a budding entrepreneur must be the people he or she wants to bring on the journey with them. Global trends in employee engagement practices could provide just the solution to suit a start-up environment. At present it is estimated that 20-30% of the American workforce is comprised of temporary and contract workers. Some analysts predict that this figure will rise as high as 50% in coming years. While European norms may not exactly reflect the situation in the US it is reasonable to say that these trends tend to follow similar paths either side of the Atlantic. Ireland’s reliance on US Foreign Direct Investment means that US trends tend to be replicated more acutely here. In the context of a start-up looking for talent there are a number of reasons why they may benefit from choosing a Temporary or Contract employee, namely: 1. Reduced overheads If engaging a person on a full time basis there are associated employment costs of carrying this headcount on an on-going basis e.g. employers PRSI. As finances may be tight in the early stages of a fledgling venture the burden of these recurring costs may be problematical. 2. Flexible engagement model Many hiring requirements nowadays are project based i.e. there is a need for example to develop a specific piece of code, produce a particular piece of marketing collateral etc. Instead of the burden of carrying the full-time cost for these resources the start up could engage people on a project and time-specific basis and discontinue their services on completion. 3. Flexibility to scale A further advantage is the ability to scale up and down quickly. The process of hiring people on a permanent basis is generally a more elongated process. The beauty of the contingent model is that many ‘career contractors’ are available on shorter notice periods and as they are being engaged for specific purpose work there is less of an onus on exploring the cultural fit and motivational fit than there would while hiring a permanent staff member. In many ways the key aspect is the competency fit and this can be assessed quite swiftly. 4. Best practice benefits Career contractors by their very nature move from business to business quite often and in many cases they are compelled to keep up to date with the latest industry training so as to justify premium rates. The advantage to the entrepreneur can be twofold; firstly these resources often deliver projects in a shorter timeframe due to superior knowledge and secondly there is the retained benefit of knowledge transfer to any retained permanent staff. The changing nature of how we hire people has resulted in a workforce that is much more comfortable with having a ’portfolio’ career and eschewing the values of the ‘job for life’ that previous generations aspired to. While companies will want to retain intellectual property and know-how in its permanent headcount, there is mounting evidence that we require a flexible, scalable and contingent workforce to adapt to challenges and opportunities in today’s marketplace. This model could be exactly what the next start-up needs in order to thrive.