IT recruitment trends: technology professionals thrive amongst uncertainty

Certain areas of IT, data and technology in the UK have been hiring prolifically despite the ever-looming uncertainty of Britain’s departure from the European Union.

Although some areas remain quiet due to the influences of Brexit and a distinct lack of clarity surrounding it, others have thrived – in particular, any technology hiring across automation, cyber and data, that is linked to risk and cost-saving. These global cost-saving initiatives have, somewhat ironically, driven up the salaries of professionals within certain specialisms including roles of test automation engineer, DevOps engineer, data analytics and cyber engineer.

The flow of permanent vacancies has been strong, particularly in data, Java, cyber, DevOps and test automation, ultimately leading to an increase in vacancies over the third quarter of 2019 when compared to the second quarter of the year. Part of this comes from the fact that investment banks have been driving to convert contract roles to permanent, and have an overall preference for hiring employees on a permanent basis.

Cyber security has seen a rise to prominence due to a change in mindset and awareness of people with regards to technology and cyber risks, from those within the business to shareholders and board level. Given the fact the sophistication and skills of attackers will only continue to develop, more importance has been placed on protecting organisations against these risks. The more complex our technological ecosystem (with IoT, machine learning, chat-bots, data lakes, blockchain to name but a few), the more challenging it becomes to address both systemic and new risks.

In stark contrast, contract hiring for IT jobs has been fairly quiet across the DevOps/cloud space into financial services, once again with firms placing a much bigger emphasis on permanent hiring. The upcoming changes to IR35 has definitely played a role in this, as companies have started to introduce a two-year rule for contractors and are attempting to convert them to permanent positions where possible.

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The most prominent role: DevOps engineers

The DevOps area has been so prominent recently as it’s beginning to cross over into so many other roles. As a result, numerous organisations have been asking for professionals with DevOps skills to assume roles across Data Analytics and Cyber. There has also been a high demand for those possessing experience working with Kubernetes, Python and Docker.

What has made a tech CV stand out?

  • As mentioned above, Python, Kubernetes and Docker experience is highly sought after in DevOps professionals. It tends to increase rates for contractors, meaning permanent salaries for equivalent roles have to be high to compete.
  • Across cloud, we are starting to see a demand for Google Cloud (GCP), as well as more organisations starting to use it as an alternative to AWS and Azure.
  • Candidates looking for a role within test/automation who possess a background of building automation frameworks from scratch using Selenium have stood out, and those with a strong development background using Java has been the preference – Java jobs continue to be frequently seen.
  • A succinct and clear CV, displaying a track record of having a significant individual contribution to projects using relevant technologies, is key for professionals looking to move within Development as it portrays the candidate as a specialist rather than a generalist.
  • Organisations look for data candidates who have clarity about projects, insights and business outcomes delivered. Data visualisation skills with Looker, Tableau, Qlik are demanded, as are strong Open Source skills.

Wellness in IT

Focusing on workplace wellness and offering a level of flexibility in roles are both becoming prominent in tech businesses, particularly in the large banking community. In order to accommodate for this, employers give their staff access to free or discounted gyms, increased ‘new parents’ benefits, flexible working, private healthcare and a more relaxed working environment.

For the remainder of 2020

Brexit has played a significant role in slowing down the technology market so far this year, but whether things will gain momentum or continue to slow down after 31st October remains to be seen.

One piece of legislation that will definitely continue to influence hiring is IR35. As more and more companies nail down their stance and approach, the recruitment of contractors will slow down, and the emphasis will firmly be on permanent hiring. With that in mind, it’s important that any temporary professionals seriously consider how the changes will affect them sooner rather than later and may have to be flexible when it comes to opportunities.

Written by Angela Lewis, team leader, IT, Morgan McKinley

Information Age’s guide to IR35 for IT employers and contractors

Information Age’s comprehensive guide to the IR35 regulation for IT employers and contractors, featuring insights from leading employment law experts

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