Amid political and economic turbulence, a range of organisations have been hiring Strategy, Projects & Change Management professionals to help navigate the uncertain times.
Just when you thought things couldn’t get any worse with the government, they have over the last three months. Since the last quarter we have acquired a new Prime Minister who has lost the first seven of his Commons votes, seen his slight majority destroyed and has acted unlawfully in trying to shut down parliament. On top of that, his own brother resigned from the cabinet over his handling of Brexit and trying to push through a no deal. Although Boris Johnson has put through a new proposal for leaving, which is a start for negotiations, it still seems unlikely that a deal will be done by the 31st of October. Even if it is agreed by the European Council, it will be difficult to get it over the line by the deadline as it still needs approval in parliament.
Outside of the Brexit saga, the Trump vs China trade war is still ongoing and the US President has now started to focus on the EU. This has sent tremors through the market, creating fears that Europe’s largest economy, Germany, is heading towards a recession. All of this combined uncertainty has led firms to hold fire on investing in big projects unless they really have to.
This said, the world hasn’t ended and we are still seeing a range of organisations looking to hire. Flow of jobs has been relatively consistent with the first half of 2019, with activity being better than expected over the traditionally slow summer months. In particular, a large bank in the City has been looking to hire across Data Analytics, Cyber Security and new technologies such as Cloud, Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain for a multi-year digital transformation programme. The banks with retail arms are looking to future proof themselves against disruptors as they continue to lose customers to firms like Monzo, Revolut and Starling Bank. A large payments firm has also been looking to increase its market share, so has been hiring technology Business Analysts and Project Managers on a contract basis.
Apart from the payments firm mentioned above, the vast majority of hiring has been on a permanent basis. With IR35 legislation pending, many companies are holding out to see what the industry is doing to tackle this, as many contractors in this space utilise LTD companies. This means there are lots of remedial policy updates to reflect external interim hiring, so they will be in line with HMRC regulations. This has been taking up numerous resources, stalling the contract market and disrupting an already fragile economy, but we will hopefully see movement in the next quarter when it becomes legislation in the Autumn budget.
There has been a consistent focus on hiring permanent Business Analysts at a mid-senior level. This is being driven by the reduced contractor resources in the regulatory space and the building up of permanent change capabilities in other areas. As mentioned above, Digital Project Managers with cloud experience, along with knowledge of data management processing and platform optimisation, are also in high demand. The desire to hire Product Managers and Product Analysts has stood out, with organisations continuing the transition to Agile driven projects - on top of the appropriate qualifications, delivery experience in an agile methodology is required.
Flexible working being part of an offer is a key consideration for job seekers nowadays. Organisations are generally offering ‘working from home’ at least once a week as standard in order to boost the wellbeing of their employees. With more technology available, staff are able to be just as efficient when working remotely as they are when in the office. As well as freeing up office space, which helps a business financially, a focus on wellness has been shown to promote employee satisfaction and productivity.
Benefits are also seeing more flexibility, including some such as ‘grandparent leave’ to celebrate a new arrival or provide emergency childcare when needed. In this same breath, stronger paternity leave has also come about.
We expect the market will remain largely flat for the remainder of the year, with a focus on rebalancing permanent and contract levels. Most firms are sitting tight while they wait to see what happens with Brexit, which probably won’t happen this side of the new year - the uncertainty means planning ahead is impossible.
Job seekers should remain open minded about the shape of the contract being offered (permanent/FTC/contract) - focus on the role and be flexible when it comes to remuneration. Make sure you are applying for roles that are a close match to your skills; with less volume of roles on the market and a big pool of people chasing them, only the closest matched candidates are gaining traction currently.
Contributors to the Strategy, Projects & Change Management update: