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Demand for IT pros rises year on year

Demand for IT pros rises year on year
  • After a minor drop in July, vacancies in technology companies rebounded in August, reaching the second-highest level in the past two years, according to the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo).
  • The APSCo IT Trends Report found that demand in technology companies continues to make up a larger proportion of the professional vacancy market, exceeding 16 percent in August.
  • While IT development and engineering constitutes 25 percent of all advertised IT roles the specialism saw more tentative growth of 3 percent year on year. 

Demand for managerial roles also increased, growing by 19 percent year on year, pointing towards organisations’ focus on expanding the frameworks of their IT departments. However it is IT security that experienced the greatest uplift, with demand rising by 26 percent year on year to August. The insight, based on data from Vacancysoft, also revealed that vacancies in Greater London accounted for half of all openings in the technology sector, despite having minimal year on year growth of just 2 percent. Conversely, the West Midlands and Wales each corresponded to less than 5 percent of the sector, but experienced the highest proportional change of over ten percent.

Ann Swain, chief executive of APSCo, commented on the report saying; “Despite some commentators expressing uncertainty about the degree to which the UK’s decision to leave the EU referendum will impact professional job availability, hiring sentiment remains strong in the IT sector, and across a number of other key economic sectors. According to our most recent IT Trends Report IT vacancies reached the second highest level in the past two years, which is certainly a positive sign of growth for the sector.”

“It’s somewhat unsurprising that IT security roles have experienced such substantial year on year growth, as business leaders become more and more aware of the business risks of a cyber-attack and look to expand their IT security function. It is highly likely that this steep uplift will continue into the coming months, and indeed years, with both a survey from Lloyds’ indicating that nine in ten big businesses have suffered a major cyber-attack and the magnitude of the recently revealed Yahoo attack highlighting the need to establish an infallible security network.”

Employers missing a trick when it comes to the benefits of flexible working; More than half (54 percent) want to work remotely or from home, but just a third (34 percent) actually do; 87 percent of employees and 92 percent of employers think that those who work flexibly are just as, if not more, productive than those who work regular hours; Over half (53 percent) of employees would sacrifice a 5 percent salary increase for the chance to work flexibly. It has been over two years since the right to request flexible working was extended to all employees with six months’ service. However, new research from My Family Care, the UK’s leading provider of family-friendly employer solutions, and global recruitment experts, Hydrogen, has revealed a significant disconnect between the high numbers of people who want to work flexibly and the low numbers of employers who actively embrace it.

The survey of 1587 UK employees and 310 UK employers found that while over half (54 percent) of the UK’s working population want the opportunity to work remotely or from home, just a third (34 percent) were encouraged to, with many feeling a constant stigma around it. Similarly, there was a big disconnect between the hours that people work and want to work.  While just over a third (37 percent) of people have flexible start and finish times, almost DOUBLE that (63 percent) said they wanted flexible start and finish times, suggesting that employers could do a lot more to engage their workforce by introducing flexible working policies.

Flexible working is in such high demand that it is by far the top benefit that people look for when considering a new role – with 81 percent looking for flexible working options before joining a company, way beyond any other typical benefit such as an enhanced pension scheme (35 percent), private healthcare insurance (28 percent) or commission (28 percent). In fact, 53 percent of employees would rather have flexible working over a 5 percent salary increase while of those who would sacrifice a pay rise for benefits – 45 percent would choose flexible working over a 10 percent salary increase. The prioritisation of flexible working when looking for a new role was particularly true amongst parents of young children with 86 percent saying so, while 81 percent of adult dependant carers agreed.  This comes in the wake of another recent study by Digital Mums which found that more than two thirds of stay at home mothers with young children would go back to work IF flexible working was an option. 

Ben Black, Director of My Family Care says: “With so many of any given workforce having some kind of caring or family responsibility, the benefits of flexible working are vast. With the rising number of working mothers in the UK, the increase in pension age, a rapidly ageing population – and the emergence of the so-called ‘sandwich generation’ where individuals are called upon to care for both their children and elderly relatives – businesses need to see the value in offering flexible working to attract and retain top quality staff.  The ‘bums on seats’ culture is on the way out.  Flexible working is the future; it should not even be seen as a ‘benefit’ but simply the best way of getting things done: it helps individuals create a happy and healthy work-life balance that is essential to get the very best out of an individual.”  

However, there appears to be an enduring stigma surrounding flexible working, with more women (26 percent) than men (18 percent) worrying that working flexibly would impact on their career prospects. However, the research found that flexibility itself was equally important to both genders. Ian Temple, CEO of Hydrogen, says: “The way we work is radically changing in our digitally connected world. However, our research has found that while demand is very high for flexible working, many companies are not capitalising on this by encouraging it through the marketing of their roles or promoting it internally, which would increase the pool of talent they could attract.” 

The research outlined the top five benefits of flexible working being productivity, the attraction of top talent, talent retention, a better work-life balance and happier employees.  In fact, 87 percent of employees and 92 percent of employers believed that those who work flexibly are just as, if not more, productive than those who work regular hours. In the analysis by sector, it transpired that those who work in tech want to work remotely the most (75 percent), closely followed by accountancy (72 percent) and finance (64 percent). Similarly, it is the tech industry that is leading the way with flexible start and finish times – with 77 percent adding this to their wish list, followed by 74 percent of those who work in the energy sector and 67 percent of those who work in accountancy and finance. 

The findings were revealed at a Think Tank Event led by My Family Care and Hydrogen and hosted by global law firm, Norton Rose Fulbright, on Wednesday 12th October where 100 HR and Diversity leaders looked into the needs, wants and challenges faced by employees and employers when it comes to flexible and family friendly working. Of the challenges faced, the research highlighted, over a quarter (28 percent) of employees said they don’t feel comfortable talking to their employer about introducing a more fluid working pattern.  The top reasons for this were:

  • Being seen as less committed to the business (51 percent)
  • Worried it would impact their chances of future promotions and pay increases (31 percent) 
  • Their employers would think they were trying to get out of work (30 percent)

So what is the future of flexible working?  My Family Care and Hydrogen’s research found that over half (55 percent) of millennials would like flexible start and finish times while nearly a quarter (24 percent) would like to work remotely more than once a week – suggesting that the concept of doing conventional working hours at your desk will soon be a thing of the past. Of the 1587 employees asked, over half (52 percent) said that it will be more challenging for organisations to retain staff if they don’t offer flexible working while 51 percent of people believe flexible working will become the norm for all businesses.

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