As we serviced our client’s technical hiring needs in 2017, we performed our own research, and identified some new and reoccurring talent acquisition trends. Below are our Top 5 VAR & MSP Staffing Predictions for 2018….interestingly only one is focused on actual technical talent; the other four focus on the impact to a business. So, without further adieu, here are our 5 staffing predictions for 2018.
1 – Cybersecurity – This will most likely be the most difficult technical position to fill in 2018, and they will be “pricey” even for candidates that may be marginally qualified. We admit we did not have to go out on a limb on this prediction, as even a recent article published by the job board Monster, put unemployment for Cybersecurity specialists at effectively 0%. Of all the technical positions VAR Staffing recruits for, Cybersecurity specialists represented the largest % increase in 2017.
2 – The Talent Hire vs. The Experienced Hire – Just about everyone acknowledges there is a shortage of skilled, experienced technical talent in one form or the other. As a result, companies will be forced to improve their internal training programs, AND improve their ability to identify strong talent to hire, vs. primarily relying on hiring experienced talent away from competitors. Even industry leaders such as Amazon, Microsoft, IBM and others, cannot hire the experienced talent needed; and typically, money is not the issue. As a result, more and more apprenticeship programs and internal training are taking on an increasingly important role in hiring and grooming tech talent.
Reduced candidate availability will impact small to mid-sized VARs and MSPs even more in 2018. Without a solid plan to supplement experienced professionals with “high talent”, lesser experienced candidates, company growth will be constrained by lack of available skilled talent.
3 – Tier 1 Client Support and Apprenticeships – Apprenticeships will take on greater importance in 2018. If ever there is a role that lends itself to apprenticeship success, it should start here. With the Millennial generation being more of a “digital native” rather than a “digital immigrant”, their natural comfort in performing tech support is obvious.
CompTIA (one of many organizations) has long been an industry leader in providing technical certifications, with a progression path. VARs and MSPs would be well served to increase their use of in-house training, if not already doing so in 2018 to help “grow their own” in-house talent pool.
4 – Available Talent Scarcity is also Driving Business Acquisition Activity –VAR Staffing noticed an increase in M&A activity among our clients in 2017, and we predict the trend to continue in 2018. Two of the most obvious benefits associated with acquisitions are immediate increase in client revenue, and the addition of hard to obtain technical talent.
In the 3rd quarter survey released this December by Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business and Management, (conducted with 334 business sales brokers), 90% of companies that sold for greater than $5 million, were bought by businesses looking to expand. And expansion is one way to acquire new talent, as well as new customers. However, even with new talent acquisition, 85% of the companies who are looking to hire also indicated the need to train those they hire. That seems to further validate prediction #2 regarding the Talent Hire vs. The Experienced Hire.
CompTIA’s Tim Herbert, SVP of Research and Market Intelligence was quoted December 8th as saying, “For the year, IT occupations have grown by 223,000 positions, further confirming the demand by businesses across every sector of the economy to deploy technology wherever possible”.
5 – Employee Retention Will Continue to Take on Greater Emphasis – Assuming you agree with the position good talent remains difficult to hire, the need to focus on employee retention is more important than ever. On aggregate, below are the most common desired improvements we hear candidates express (besides compensation) when it comes to evaluating their next job move.
- Continued technical training and career growth
- Work / life balance
- Immediate and improved healthcare benefits and expense moderation or reduction
- Greater control over the use of PTO (also relating to work / life balance challenges)
And one we missed – If you read our 2017 Predictions, there was one we really missed in 2017: Azure Architects. We predicted Azure Architects to be one of the top 3 most difficult search assignments in 2017. Much to our surprise, VAR Staffing performed only 2 searches in 2017 requiring Azure Architecture knowledge.
We look forward to revisiting our 2018 predictions at the end of 2018, and see how clear our crystal ball was. In the meantime, we wish you the best of success growing your business in 2018.