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Post-downturn labour market a different ball game

Post-downturn labour market a different ball game

It seems strange to think of an impending talent war after a year in which many IT professionals were grateful to keep their jobs.

In 2009, the recession forced many firms to make redundancies, and still others shed personnel toward the end of last year, knowing they needed to head into the new year as lean and agile as possible.

But a recent poll by Reseller News on hiring expectations, our recent feature on predictions for 2010, along with external industry surveys on companies’ business confidence and employment expectations, all show opportunities to be recruited are growing.

So as such activity begins in earnest, how has the sector’s labour market been influenced by the storm of 2009?

Many of the current conditions are cyclical rather than new, but should be top of mind in the search for people.

More than a few industry members have told us they are closely guarding their top talent, knowing such people are just as valuable an asset as high-ROI technology when the economic climate is so harsh.

Those whose IT roles have fallen victim to the recession are returning to a workforce where they need to prove their worth. They’re also facing an environment where project management and contract work has been in scarce supply, with IT projects being delayed or cancelled amid tightening budgets. Projects will now be rekindled, even if they’re simply long-delayed upgrades and refreshes.

It’s also a landscape where highly-qualified IT staff have in some cases been forced to accept roles they’re overqualified for, meaning less opportunity for new industry entrants. This is true not only of IT, but the employment scene in general.

Another trend transcending IT and other fields is the glut of young labour available for hire. Meeting the expectations of this demographic in terms of reward, technology, work and communications style, and subsequently bridging the gap between this group and senior personnel, is a challenge and opportunity companies are already presented with.

Taking time, often up to months, to decide their next move is a luxury those who have reached a senior level in the IT industry over an extended period of time, and have accumulated wealth, can often afford to do. Some have taken the extended holiday option and are yet to land new IT roles.

Others who have held high-profile positions in the sector have elected to utilise their skills on consultancy work or their own ventures. The plus side of this is it can mean these people widen their networks to businesses outside their normal circles, rather than just moving between vendor, distributor and reseller firms who headhunt them. The downside is channel firms lose out on invaluable in-house expertise.

IT is, of course, one of the nation’s industries that is characterised by familiar faces moving between companies. It’s also wealthier than many sectors and tends to take the lead in the resurgence of recruitment.

In the face of these trends, it’s important not only to retain staff with important experience and expertise, but to draw on a variety of talent pools.

There will be more contractors and consultants to choose from as a result of last year, but also a growing group of potential industry entrants emerging from local IT trainers and those in fields of business on the fringes of the industry.


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