The staffing as a whole is undergoing a profound and rapid transformation brought about by technological disruption, a generational shift in the workforce and new economic trends. A €416-billion industry by 2018 global estimates, the sector is expected to grow by 3% in 20201 and will only increase in importance as the needs and challenges of a fast-evolving job market make it an essential part of the talent acquisition process. But what about the IT staffing sector in particular? One could say IT staffing enjoys all the benefits of the industry’s current situation while avoiding most of its downsides.
From job boards and professional networking platforms like Indeed and LinkedIn, to new corporate administrative tools such as vendor management systems (VMS), technology is shaking up the industry from head to tail. While some see this as a threat to the traditional staffing business model, 87% of recruitment professionals believe agencies should embrace digital transformation to remain competitive. Simultaneously, 55% of staffing firms expect their technology investments to increase in 2020.
There are many ways in which technology can help recruiters do a better job. For instance, artificial intelligence and networking platforms facilitate and accelerate the sourcing of candidates, which represents a major advantage in a field of work in which winning the race against the clock is a key factor of success.
Skill obsolescence is a well-known side effect of progress. However, with new technologies emerging at a growing pace and changing the way businesses operate, the skill gap is rapidly widening. Not surprisingly, 77% of staffing professionals cite skills shortage as their top challenge. That is especially true for IT staffing.
In 2018, in fact, 49% of S&P 100 job postings were for only 39 roles. Most of these were vacancies for IT-related positions like software developers and computer systems engineers. As a critical function to businesses in the age of digital transformation, IT is one of the most understaffed and contested labour sectors.
Moreover, the constant evolution of technology and its business applications ads a layer of complexity to the generalised and persistent shortage of skills experienced by the staffing industry. The newer the technology, the fewer qualified professionals available. The demand for expertise in fields like data science and cloud architecture, for instance, is impossible to meet.
As a result, many companies look to IT staffing agencies for help in identifying and securing tech talent. Another solution to the skills shortage is leaning on the burgeoning freelance community to supplement internal capabilities.
As it happens with more and more jobs, the IT sector is increasingly in need of professionals that can complement their technical knowledge with abilities like adaptability and interpersonal communication. Commonly referred to as soft skills, these capabilities have become crucial in a time of rapid and sudden business transformation. This is particularly true of IT professionals, who were traditionally judged by their technical skills and now need to demonstrate greater social and change-management competences.
The talent supply gap and the importance of freelancers offer, of course, a great opportunity for IT staffing companies. However, IT recruitment is a crowded space, with many companies and agencies often competing for the same candidates and positions. Thus, it becomes essential for agencies to have a deep understanding of the needs of both candidates to differentiate themselves from competitors and be able to deliver solutions quickly.
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