The skill shortage in the IT industry, closing the Digital Skills gap!

One Google search on ‘skill shortage in the IT industry’ brings up almost 2.5million results (yes, I did it).

There’s a lot of opinion on why there is such a shortage in our industry, one area that is mentioned frequently is introducing coding into the curriculum in the early years, which is great to see being implemented in some schools and we will hopefully see the benefit in the not too distant future. Internships in the industry for the younger generation is also discussed, however, how many tech companies are really implementing such initiatives?

Here at DevOpsGuys, we have really embraced this with our DOG Academy which was officially launched this year but has been providing internships for undergraduates and apprenticeship opportunities since 2015. Following growth within the company, the DOG Academy is now on a mission to reduce the chronic shortage of tech skills forging strong links with local schools, colleges and universities.

When it comes to our undergraduate internship, a group of students from a variety of technology-focused courses are given the opportunity to do a year in industry between their second and third year. This has provided them with a chance to see first-hand how a successful IT Consultancy operates. One of the highlights of their time here and something I find key to their learning and development is being surrounded by senior engineers who they learn from day in day out. If they graduate with a 2:1 or above they are then guaranteed a permanent position with us at DevOpsGuys. I truly believe this not only helps nurture the younger generation into the world of DevOps but also gives them further incentives to do well early on in their career, in turn helping the individuals to gain key skills, guiding them to develop into top class IT professionals and bridge the ever-growing skills gap. Three of our most recent graduates are already achieving great things in their careers and have recently been promoted to Engineers.

DevOpsGuys Interns 2017

There are also some great initiatives out there from the government that focus on closing the skills gap. We have recently welcomed Zergham our Graduate Research Engineer who came our Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with Cardiff University. Forging this partnership with the KTP  has really helped us to improve our collaboration between academics and researchers, and adds yet more skill to our team.

What effect is the skill-shortage having on the current DevOps market?

One that is clear to see is the uplift in DevOps professionals making the leap into contracting, after all, the financial reward is considerable, plus you get to work on exciting new projects every few months or so. On that note, we currently have multiple contract DevOps Consultant positions available across the UK, so if you’re reading this and interested please do get in touch.

Contracting can be stressful at times, constantly searching and trawling job boards for that next gig but with the current demand in the market for skilled DevOps Consultants/Engineers, they won’t be out of work for long. The variety and buzz of contracting is becoming more and more appealing, partly due to the high demand and limited supply of such skills, with the lack of permanent DevOps professionals in the market looking to move, organisations are almost forced to utilise highly skilled contractors for urgent projects, which need to be delivered fast and to a high standard.

DevOps Contractors, in particular, are now more than ever very aware of their high demand, leaving lack of long-term staff with the relevant skills, however that being said, one of the many benefits of utilising a contractor can be the training and ‘up-skill’ aspect to your current permanent tech team, showing them first-hand the benefits of DevOps and what it can bring to an organisation that’s willing to change for the better. As always, the market could swing in the future but for the time being it continues to be kind to contractors in the DevOps space, for the foreseeable future, purely because of demand.

So, how do we make the most of attracting the top talent?

From an internal perspective, personally I feel there are innovative ways of attracting the right talent to grow and be successful, I’m not talking writing creative job descriptions and adverts here, I mean thinking outside the box a little and using certain methods that will get your name out there in your sometimes niche, close-knit industry.

DevOpsGuys Host ESTNet event

Here at DevOpsGuys we regularly hold meetups and open up our office space for external networking sessions, recently ESTNet held their networking and awards evening here. All that we ask for in return for using our office space are donations to our chosen charity. The event saw entrepreneurs, managers and even university students visit the office, witnessing our environment first hand, opening up our world for people to learn more about us and makes us more transparent.

DevOpsGuys ESTNet event tweet
DevOpsGuys ESTNet event tweet

As part of my role I attend as many events and conferences as possible, but be selective, there’s no point in a tech company attending a wedding fair (unless you’ve created an online platform for weddings of course) do your research and find relevant events to attend, or you could create your own, just as we have done at DevOpsGuys and WinOps. This is the world’s only dedicated conference to ‘DevOps in a Windows World’, we found our niche with this event, realised there was a demand and run with it. The Conference was founded in 2015 as a collaboration between us and Prism Digital, with the aim of creating a community for Microsoft professionals to discuss and collaborate on all things DevOps. Our CTO Steve was recently appointed as a Microsoft Regional Director (one of only 6 in the UK).

Social Presence

In today’s world, a company’s online presence is so important, reaching a wider audience and being up to date across all social platforms (not just LinkedIn) is key. Companies who constantly only post job adverts will get lost, but posting relevant content and thought leadership in your space will attract the right type of people in your market. We work hard to provide fresh insights and a new way of thinking in everything that we do here.

Thorough recruitment process

We believe the candidate journey through our recruitment process is key to onboarding the right type of people for DevOpsGuys, it may be a little lengthier than the norm which includes an initial call, tech Skype call, then half a day at the office including tech test and culture review/lunch, but I truly believe this will give you more respect and buy-in as a whole, to ensure the right fit from both sides and also for our clients.

Gareth Hubbard is a Sales Manager (DOTA) here at DevOpsGuys and is responsible for talent acquisition and augmenting teams of DevOps professionals for DevOpsGuys clients, UK wide.

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