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IT & Tech Market Insights

For the past few months I have been asked the same few questions by every company and candidate I’ve spoken to –

“What’s the market like?”
“Are there any jobs locally?”
“What kind of candidates are looking for jobs?”
“Who’s recruiting?” And the big one:
“What are local companies doing?”

So, in an attempt to answer some of these questions on a wider scale, I’ve outlined my insights on the IT & Tech market based on what I’ve seen happening in & around the East Midlands during Q3.

The Story So Far:

In July 2020, a lot of projects were put on hold, which meant a large volume of people in these roles were put at risk of redundancy and many day-rate contractors terminated from project roles, so were actively job seeking. The jobs actively being recruited consisted mostly of SME’s recruiting for service desk skills, largely due to the teething problems many companies were experiencing after rolling out a “home-working solution” overnight, and (as always) software developers of all kinds.

August saw an increase in senior jobs within SME’s as many realised, they now need a more robust remote IT strategy because homeworking is here to stay. There was also an increase in contract management roles as companies focussed on getting good value for money from their third parties.

In September, we saw a change in mindset with more SME’s making plans to roll out their new digital/IT agendas ASAP. This means more planned jobs (both perm & contract) in the coming months and local blue-chip organisations re-prioritising their project portfolios and starting to recruit again in the IT space. I’ve also seen a fair bit of movement at “Head Of” level, creating as a shake-up of the status quo, resulting in an influx of new ideas, bringing positive change to most local businesses.

Key takeaways:

1) Companies around the East Midlands seem to have come through the lockdown uncertainty and formulated some plans for the coming months, which means more projects, and more jobs. A lot more companies are hiring now than they were 3 months ago, that’s for sure!

2) Between the IR35 reforms and now Covid, there has been a significant decrease in appetite for day rate contractors across the East Midlands. Many clients served notice on their contractors in March or took them on in a permanent capacity due to changes to IR35 and the majority of their IT projects going on hold. There are still plenty of day rate contractors locally though - unable to secure something close to home, many have secured projects further afield around the UK, which they can now do easily due to home working being the rule, not the exception.

3) Over the last 5-10 years or so we have seen a huge demand for software developers across the East Midlands, with companies fighting for talent. Covid hasn’t changed this - there is still a high demand for developers of all kinds, with basically none being made redundant.

4) Several companies are adjusting to a “remote first” mindset, meaning that they are now able to hire talent (including developers!) who are based further afield and will just visit the office a couple of times a month. This is opening up a huge talent pool that we just haven’t had access to in the East Midlands before, which I cannot see changing as most companies are telling me that remote working is here to stay. This is great for candidates too as it means they can apply further afield and are no longer restricted to only working for a company that they can commute daily to.

5) Due to increased pressure on budgets, there has been a mindset shift for companies to work exclusively with one agency for recruitment. This is positive for applicants because it means you know exactly who to speak to and that you are 1 of 5 on the shortlist, giving you a smooth process. It is positive for companies because they don’t have to waste time speaking to multiple agencies and they receive one shortlist of candidates who are all qualified for the role & actually want to work for their company who all have the same level of information about the role.

6) Without a doubt my biggest takeaway from this quarter is that Covid Burnout is a real thing. Many techies are working longer hours than ever before, still feeling like they need to “be seen” to be working even though they can’t physically be seen, plus juggling a family into the equation which makes it harder to concentrate…I wrote a LinkedIn post about it a month or so ago and sadly it’s still something I am chatting with candidates about on a daily basis. Line Managers - If you aren’t already, please check in with your teams and find out if they are okay. Now more than ever, you need to protect your people - or you risk losing them.

7) In addition, Mental Health during job seeking is an issue we must continue to talk about. I have had many, many, many conversations about how your mental health is affected during jobhunting. From the anxiety of going through redundancy and not being sure if you can pay the mortgage next month, to the endless hours of applying and hearing nothing back, and how that affects your confidence, your self-esteem, your relationships with people around you and your self-worth. Don’t just apply - Use your network to help you. Not sure how? I’ve written some tips & tricks to help you network more effectively on LinkedIn.

Looking ahead:

Day Rate contracts will continue to be more limited. I anticipate an increase in demand in October/November as employers work their way through the process of welcoming staff back from furlough, allowing a clearer picture of resource available and IT projects to undertake.

Here at Distinct we are hearing about a lot of local mergers & acquisitions on the horizon. On the whole this means projects for contractors & perm jobs will be created in order to bring those companies onto one platform and maintain.

Home working is here to stay. Most East Midlands employers are looking at rolling out their “home working” policies in full. Some are now adopting a fully remote or “remote first” stance, including changing contracts to reflect home as the main place of work, and acknowledging that they will pay for travel into the office as required. Some are even looking at paying an additional sum to staff who are going to remain fully remote to cover their overheads (increased energy bills etc) and are closing their offices.

On the whole, I am hearing that “fully remote” is not the best option for most businesses, with most organisations wanting an office, but for it to be smaller as their staff will no longer be expected in every day. Overall employees are happy with this because as those nights are drawing in & the temperature is dropping, many are finding their mental health negatively affected by constant remote working.

So, there you have it, some of my key takeaways of the last quarter and predictions for the final push of the year. I post a lot of my market findings & jobs on LinkedIn so if you want to hear more from me, just connect to keep in touch easily. If you want to be notified when the next Market Insights blog is up, simply drop me an email. :)

- Rachel

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Rachel Watson

Rachel Watson

Senior Talent Acquisition Consultant

07458 160 462
0115 870 0300