Employers urged to act amid IT jobs battle

Be-IT CEO Gareth Biggerstaff with managing director Nikola Kelly. Picture: contributed.
Be-IT CEO Gareth Biggerstaff with managing director Nikola Kelly. Picture: contributed.
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The “gloves are off” in the war for talent in the Scottish IT jobs sector, with employers having to rethink recruitment and retention of staff, according to a survey.

The study commissioned by independent IT recruitment firm Be-IT said fast business digital transformation and a restricted talent pool are having a “turbulent” effect.

It comes as the recruiter, which has offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Belfast, in its latest financial results saw gross profit grow by 55 per cent and revenue by 40 per cent, with turnover up to £11.2 million in its fourth full year of trading.

The firm also invested £100,000 in a new bespoke central Glasgow headquarters in February, and is expecting to see another “buoyant” year ahead, with revenue forecast to grow by 50 per cent to £17.5m next year.

The business said there was significantly more movement in the Scottish IT jobs market over the past 12 months, with nearly half of those surveyed moving jobs in the past year, up by a tenth on the previous period.

It also found that top IT staff intended to stay in their current position, with a third of those polled saying they had no intention of moving to a new job in the following six months, up almost 10 per cent on the prior year.

And a shortage of quality staff was producing a surge in IT firms making a greater effort to retain staff, it added. The survey found an 11 per cent increase in staff remaining with the same firm after being internally promoted.

This was particularly evident at more junior levels, “where people are perhaps more easily persuaded to stay by offers of future rewards”.

The survey also cited a willingness to stay with the same employer, reflected by a 5 per cent drop in the number of people who said they would move to a new company even if offered a promotion in 2018.

Be-IT chief executive Gareth Biggerstaff said: “There’s a clear trend. Candidates are well aware their skills are in demand, which is creating turbulence in the market.

“The human resources departments of IT firm must focus on retaining the best talent and creating the best working environment they can.

“The rate of change in the sector and the limited talent pool ensures this is an issue that’s not going to go away in a hurry.”

Be-IT also noted that the increasing digitalisation in business and public services, cyber protection, artificial intelligence, robotics and big data are currently having a considerable impact on the Scottish and UK marketplace.

The firm’s MD Nikola Kelly added: “In a marketplace that is already undergoing huge change, the disruption of Brexit will amplify issues further. The trend is no longer a job for life, but a life of jobs with both employers and candidates are waking up to that.

“Our survey clearly shows the tensions in the market, and it’s unlikely to be resolved in the medium to short term.”