Amidst all the hyperbole circulating about skills shortages in the channel Ian Hunter has spoken to resellers about their experiences and how they are overcoming what is for many – a Pain Point.
It’s very hard to grow a business and exploit opportunities if you cannot find quality staff with the right skills when you need them. I saw an interview on TV a few weeks ago about Brexit and the future freedom of movement with regards to skill shortages in the UK where a union chief whose name I can’t remember, seemed to make a good point when he said that in general the UK had been under investing in employee training for decades.
However, Brian Lord, Managing Director of Exeter based Swcomms, told us his firm had always grown their own skills base.
“We invest in staff – our Head Engineer was taken on as an apprentice. We set out to take the right people from college and then develop them. We upskill all our staff, have our own NVQ apprentice scheme and see it as being our responsibility to ensure we have the right skill sets.”
Peter Olive of Vortex6 says this is a topic close to his heart.
“Yes, we are finding a skills shortage in the market. The fastest growing part of our business is software. We try to recruit young people either straight out of University or after their first job. There are plenty of people on the market but very few of real quality, most with no idea how to conduct themselves in an interview. We’re looking for well-prepared individuals that we can train. On average, it takes us somewhere between 4-6 months and dozens of CV’s before we find anyone.”
Stephen McIntyre, Group Chief Marketing Officer at Nycomm, says he’s not really finding a skills shortage in the market but that the hardest area to recruit for is in network services. We do have an apprenticeship programme and our own internal training academy.”
Matthew J Parker, Chief Executive Officer, IP Solutions, says, “I think there is always a shortage of real ‘talent’ in all areas, regardless of the industry. Quality sales staff who understand solution selling are especially thin on the ground, particularly those with patience and don’t feel they have to prove something the day they walk through the door.
From a technical perspective, generally you can find what you want through a broad sourcing approach and a thorough selection process. We run a limited apprentice program and a much more successful Personal Development Plan across the organisation.”
Head of Nine Wholesale, Adam Cathcart, says that one of the penalties for success and growth is the need to recruit.
“We work extremely hard at staff development and retention to minimise the need for brand new heads, but it is a fact of life for a thriving business like ours.
Apart from the perpetually vibrant area of software development, where recruiting and retaining high calibre individuals is a constant challenge, we are not seeing any significant problems with recruitment. Our preference is to avoid agencies, with their high fees and often lacklustre candidates, but we are lucky enough to have an extensive personal network across our senior management team and prefer to leverage this route, rather than invest in direct advertising for most positions.
We have made successful use of apprenticeships in our IT department and are also forging links with our local university in Gloucester to provide students with placement and even full time opportunities.
The ‘our staff are our most precious resource’ mantra is easy to say, but not always delivered with the same gusto, so we are working hard to ensure that everything from induction, through regular performance management to training and development, is the very best that we can offer.”
Diane Davis, HR Director at Maintel notes that as technology continues to evolve in its scope and grow in uptake, skilled engineers are in higher demand than ever before, and can command competitive salaries that match their knowledge and experience. Maintel holds a two-year apprenticeship programme based in Burnley, for example, in which it partners with Burnley College.
“Security is one pertinent example of a highly sought-after field, and one where companies are committing greater investment in resources than ever before.
With this, skilled workers have an abundance of job options at their feet, leaving it up to the organisation recruiting to offer the best package available. However, these skill sets must be accompanied by soft skills, so that both new and current employees feel it’s the right fit – if not, it’s a case of back to the drawing board for both. When it comes to new recruits, companies should therefore not only look for knowledge and experience, but also demonstrated behaviours, which further shrinks the talent pool available to dip into.”
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