Wednesday, 18 November 2015

NHS’s use of specialist contractors still on the rise

by Matthew Brown, Managing Director of giant group

With stories that address the issues surrounding the NHS dominating much of the mainstream media, it’s somewhat unsurprising that significant pressure is being applied to hospitals and clinical commissioning groups (CCG’s) to increase efficiency and cut costs. And unsurprisingly our analysis of the most recent data collected from our database of contractors reflects this growing pressure. The figures highlight a significant decrease in the time between contracts with the majority of contractors reporting an average gap of 0-31 days, which represents a substantial reduction from figures recorded in 2014. So what is causing this trend and driving gaps between assignments down?

This decreasing time between assignments is a clear indication of the NHS’s increasing demand for extremely specialist and experienced professionals, particularly those whose expertise lie within IT, finance and operational design. These contractors are not being brought in to merely make up numbers, they are highly focus individuals with a very definite niche skillset, being tasked to address specific problems.

Contractors are being used to overhaul outdated systems, with the aim of alleviating strain on permanent staff by improving the ways in which they work on a day to day basis, as well as creating and implementing strategies to cut costs without compromising on standard of care. Regardless of whether it’s an information manager redesigning an entire IT system, or a finance manager reviewing existing budgets and implementing cost effective solutions, it’s this combination of specialist skills and extensive experience that allows them to complete complex tasks efficiently and to an exceptionally high standard.

What is becoming increasingly clear is that the tasks which contractors are being assigned to are ones that require a significant amount of expertise and that the changes being implemented are key to improving the current system. So sourcing the right people to complete them is vital if we are serious about making significant improvements to our healthcare system.

Recent reports have suggested that the health service’s costs continue to spiral out of control and taking on experts who can cut long term expenditure, whilst still maintaining high standards, is one way of driving improved efficiency. Some commentators have expressed concern over the initial cost of taking on contractors. However the long-term improvements they can make in terms of efficiency will more than offset the cost incurred, and as such they should be seen as an investment.

Furthermore the increased importance being placed on applicants having previous experience within the health service, means the contractors being taken on are individuals that truly possess the ability to make a substantial improvement to the NHS. 

Friday, 13 November 2015

What Growth really means to me

By Nick Harrington, Managing Director, Eximius Group 

Today I wanted to focus on the word "Growth" and what that means within our value propositions and to me personally.

Growth is at the heart of most interesting and exciting businesses, creating more opportunity for its teams and more challenges and variety to the working day. Our mission is quite simply a continued focus on 30% growth year-on-year and a fixed target of 100 million turnover as our longer term goal.

Our growth model:

Our growth model is supported by an investment in training, at all levels I might hasten to add. This focus changed two years ago, when we made a plan to focus on our internal development piece and now we are rolling it out and enjoying the process. The physical growth of turnover and headcount is great, but I believe it is a by-product of the personal growth and empowerment we enable and encourage.

We start by understanding the personal goals, visions and aspirations of each of our team members and then set a program pointing them on that road to success but more importantly fulfillment. All these journeys start with self-assessment and acknowledging where you currently are on that road. Once someone is grounded in the reality of their current self then the fun stuff begins! The deniers and overly proud just push pause on the process, until the moment something triggers a time of reflection (I know this to be true, as I was that guy for the first six months in my fledgling career.)

Thankfully my mentor (the legend - Simon Johnston) persisted and we made a game changing breakthrough in my professional but also in my personal life. The thing I've realised 10 years on from those crazy days starting out is that professional and personal development are the same thing. Both require a huge focus from yourself but especially from the professional people in your life who classify themselves as leaders. The hours out the office with Simon, the values, the standards and the fun we all had, had a bigger influence on my career than any class room training. Now I'm lucky enough to be surrounded by a peer group that challenge, push me forward and hold me accountable for my actions and behaviours... Plus they are quite good fun too!

If you find yourself in any position of leadership I see it as your duty to ensure you create a platform for personal growth, especially if you are even considering hiring graduates / Gen Y.

So here are a few questions to ask yourself:

- Do I know / care what the personal goals of my team are?

- Am I taking any steps / providing any guidance around those goals?

- Are my team prepared for change? If not, start to understand why?

- How confident is the team really? Are you letting their personalities shine through?

- Do you focus the team more on Goals or Growth?

- Do you understand your team? Who is driven more by cause or profit, status or success, core values or work?

Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Austerity impacting public sector IT vacancies

by Matthew Brown, managing director of giant group

Apparently the ‘word of the year’ in 2014 was vape. It may be too early to predict what the winner will be this year but we’d be willing to bet that it’s austerity. You’d be hard pressed to find anyone living outside of a cave who isn’t aware of the current programme being pushed through by the Conservative government and many others around the world. This has had a significant effect on the employment arena and our latest analysis of our contractor database found some interesting results. But how has austerity affected the IT market?

Unsurprisingly, one of the strongest trends our analysis identified was that IT contractors expect public sector roles to fall, with just 17% predicting an increase over the next 12 months. In contrast, the vast majority of professionals predict that the private sector will pick up the slack with the results suggesting opportunities will rise in fields as diverse as property and tourism as a result of growing investment.

The growing need for IT contractors is certainly down to firms splashing out on improving their existing systems in order to drive for further growth, but the wide spread nature of this demand stems from the fact that technology now impacts almost every industry. Looking back twenty years it would have been hard to imagine how far the use of smart phones, for example, has reached. And now even sectors such as manufacturing or education - where it previously would have difficult to predict how technology could make a difference - also require the skills of IT specialists. The results also highlight the ongoing positivity that many private sector firms seem to be experiencing. If their outlook was bleak it’s unlikely they would be investing in the expertise of contractors so the data also hints that the UK is on track for growth.

While it would obviously be preferable to see more growth from the public sector, it’s highly unlikely in the current climate and it’s almost impossible to imagine the Conservatives splashing out on public services anytime soon. It also appears equally unlikely that Jeremy Corbyn and Labour will get anywhere near the hot seat, if he’s even still leading the party by 2019, so these cuts within the public sector are likely to continue for some time. However, such is the growth of the IT and technology sectors and their increasing impact on almost every area of private sector business that demand for contractors should remain high over the coming months.

What factors do you think are driving demand for IT contractors within the private sector?

Friday, 23 October 2015

5 mistakes you’ll never make again!

By James Torkington, founder of first2group

When running a recruitment business you constantly feel like you are spinning plates but there are some simple mistakes that you can avoid by just being aware of what they are.

1.    Doing business at any price. When you start a recruitment business it is all too easy to be a little too grateful when you get a piece of work from a client. The thing is, the more strict that you are with yourself on what you will walk away from, the better the foundation that you are building for a scalable business.

2.    Trying to hire people just like you. It takes a mix of people and personalities to make a business work and hiring a whole team of people like you will be nearly impossible. You are setting yourself up for making your selection process very difficult indeed.

3.    Believing the hype. In this digital age it is all too easy to be flattered into supporting causes, events and initiatives simply by being put on a pedestal and being told that people need your help. You will reach a point where you will be nominated for every award under the sun and the simple fact is that most of these awards and events are a thinly guised way of getting you to buy a table at a party.

4.    Don’t think that you know it all. Having a plan and a strategy doesn’t mean that you can’t seek out relevant advice. There is always someone who has achieved more than you and cultivating those relationships might be the most important learning experience that you could have.

5.    Not having a plan. Probably the single most important thing that so many people forget. Have a plan, decide on what you want to achieve and be single minded in its pursuit. It’s not that you can’t be successful without a plan, it’s just that you will probably take twice as long to achieve the same results.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Investment in transport paying off as more engineers turn to contracting

by Matthew Brown, Managing Director of giant group
During the global recession investment in UK transport infrastructure was reduced significantly. However, in the period since, the Government and private firms have splashed the cash and have invested heavily in projects that will allow the UK to continue to grow and operate smoothly. But which schemes are driving demand and what does this mean for engineering specialists?

The £15bn road investment strategy is one considerable factor behind much of the demand. This project has required a huge amount of resources and manpower in an attempt to upgrade the UK’s existing road network which has been pushed to capacity in recent years. The programme was announced in Parliament in December 2014 and includes investment in over 100 new road schemes. Over 1,300 new lane miles are in development, with £1.5 billion pounds solely dedicated to turn existing highways into ‘smart motorways that will boost connectivity between London, Birmingham, Manchester and Yorkshire. As you may have expected, these projects don’t complete themselves and have required a range of contractor skills in order to get under way.  The project has been labelled as “the biggest upgrade to UK roads in a generation” and has come at the right time. Reports have suggested that new car sales rose for the 42nd straight month in August with more vehicles on UK roads than any time in history.

It’s not just road projects that have boosted demand either; there are also a number of huge programmes underway to bolster rail networks. Anyone working or based in the capital would be hard pressed not to have seen some evidence of the Crossrail programme that is nearing completion and aims to improve links between Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, London and Essex.  In addition, there is also the proposed High Speed 2 rail link which will improve connectivity between the capital and the north of England. Current estimates put the construction cost of this programme at approximately £42bn with huge numbers of engineering specialists likely to be in considerable demand. However, while these two are probably the best known of all the proposed programmes, there are currently 38 in total underway across the UK. And, as has been well documented, not many of these experts with the requisite niche skills currently operate in the permanent market, which means demand for contractors is being raised.

Interestingly, it appears that this shortage of engineering professionals isn’t going to be solved by offering permanent positions to contractors, as our analysis also found that the number of specialists that would turn down a permanent vacancy has risen for the third year in a row. This not only reflects the wider trend of people wanting greater control over their work/life balance, but also that professionals can earn considerably more by working on a contract basis as a result of the demand for their niche skill sets. With more people recognising the value of working in this way and businesses increasingly appreciating the value of the contract workforce it’s highly likely that this trend is only going to grow in the coming years.

What other factors do you think have driven roles for contractors?

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Top Tips For Working On The Move

by Richard Morris, UK CEO at Regus

For many recruiters the office-based 9-5 is a thing of the past. Instead, completing tasks whilst travelling to meet clients or candidates, for example, has become normal practice. Laptops, tablet, mobiles, and file sharing tools like DropBox all mean that we can work whenever and wherever we like. But how can you ensure that you remain productive? Here Richard Morris, UK CEO of global workspace provider Regus, offers some tips for working effectively whilst on the move.
Make the most of your travel time
As well as using train and plane journeys to work, think about how to make the most of your time before and after travel. Most major airports now have facilities like business lounges, and Gatwick even has individual workpods situated airside, which offer a quiet, productive environment to concentrate in. These locations will help you to make the most of your time if your flight is delayed, for example.
But remember – anyone might be listening!
Making and taking calls during a train journey might be a great use of time, but they do tend to attract the attention of fellow passengers, and you never know who might be listening! Be careful about information you give out within earshot of other travellers to avoid breaching any confidentiality agreements or causing embarrassment.
Think carefully about meeting locations
It’s easy to assume that meetings are best held at your usual office, or that of your client. However, this might not necessarily be the most convenient location. Meeting rooms are available to book by the hour at a wide range of places including motorway service stations, hotels and even shopping centres. Using one of these settings could mean reduced travel time – and therefore higher productivity - for all concerned.
Use professional locations wherever possible
Flexible working used to mean dropping into coffee shops or sitting in hotel lobbies, and putting up with the accompanying background noise and constant interruptions. However, the abundance of professional workspaces means this need no longer be the case. Using a flexible office location or business lounge means you’ll have reliable technology and an ergonomic environment to maximise your productivity. There’s now a global network of over 2,300 flexible workspaces so chances are there’ll be one close by.
Embrace remote working tools
There are a whole host of tools now available to make working on the move productive. In our survey of over 4,000 senior business people, 86% of professionals in the consultancy sector said they have used at least one tool enabling remote working in the previous month, with DropBox and Skype being the most popular.
Getting to grips with these tools will mean you’ll always have access to the documents you need and will be able to stay in touch with colleagues and contacts when out and about.
Stay safe on the road
In our poll of 1800 senior managers and business owners in 2014, two fifths of respondents admitted to having dialled into conference calls whilst driving and a fifth said they had held important business discussions, tantamount to a meeting requiring concentration and decision making, whilst one of them was driving.
The best way to ensure safety on the road is to turn your phone off, but at the very least you should use a hands free kit or ensure you pull over safely to take calls. Drop-in workspaces are available at some motorway services offering a convenient spot to take a break from driving and handle any urgent tasks.
The changing nature of working practices means that more recruiters are spending more of their time working whilst travelling than ever before, and this trend is likely to continue. However, working in a range of environments can make maintaining concentration and productivity a challenge. A few simple adjustments to working practices can ensure that you are making the most of their time whilst working on the move.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

Demand for Talent in Switzerland

by  Krisha Mirpurim, head of marketing, Nicoll Curtin

The IMD put together an annual report on talent, ranking countries on their performance to sustain their talent pool.  The survey looks at
  • Investment and development
  • Appeal factor
  • Readiness
In 2014 Switzerland came top of the table followed by Denmark and then Germany.  Reading this report coupled with the global talent index for 2015 (Hedrick and Stuggles) it surprises that Swiss market is facing a problem in attracting good talent.  Is this a problem with niche markets or it something affecting the full IT and Change market?

To help understand the challenges facing the Swiss market we speak to Tom O’Loughlin Associate Director at Nicoll Curtin.
“I don’t think that this is a country specific issue but rather a market shift that is impacting the demand for skilled talent.  In the Swiss market we have seen an increase of 25% in salary packages offered to candidates over the past couple of years.  While this might be a short term fix I feel that employers need to start looking at the global market rather than just the local talent pool.  With a small ageing population the Swiss market should start looking internationally to help match their talent gaps.

With unemployment at 3%, impending potential immigration quotas and high local salaries, this poses a problem from three fronts; firstly skilled talent is not generally “available” on the local market and needs to be actively sourced and enticed, secondly there is a reticence for global talent to relocate with the negative publicity and uncertainty that the quotas might bring and finally the high salaries make it more expensive to have labour based in Switzerland compared to other developed countries. This last one is probably the most worrying long term to the Swiss economy, as coupled with a strong Swiss Franc, it means companies struggle to be competitive on price in global markets, especially in the manufacturing sector, but it also applies to the financial and service sectors too.

Some of our clients are adapting to these pressures, investing more in talent research and differentiating their products/services from global competitors, rather than competing on price. Those that aren’t are finding themselves increasingly having to cut costs and settle for second best in talent which can lead to a dangerous negative spiral.”

Have you noticed a shortage of talent?  If so how are you handling it?