in recruitment where Irish businesses felt they were being poorly served by recruiters when looking for IT people. The heads of several companies had expressed their displeasure at being sent a deluge of CVs that proved to be fruitless in finding the right people.
This had proved such a problem for one company that it resorted to hiring its own recruiter to do the job internally.
The more interesting point though was that different companies thought that they were losing the right candidates to different competitors, with end user companies thinking that the service providers were taking them all, while a service provider reckoned that it was the multinationals, Facebook, Twitter, Google and the like, plucking the talent from the market.
But as something of an addendum to this, I was contacted by a senior IT professional who is in the final stages of changing jobs. The person in question is very experienced, highly qualified technically and has also recently completed a business management qualification.
As with many such skilled people, this person is always on the lookout for the right opportunity to develop their skills and progress their career. So rather than the old insecurity of always having a CV on a memory stick in their back pocket, it is more case of being ready to recognise an opportunity.
Consequently, this IT professional related to me the experience of several interview processes over the last couple of years. As the economic situation deteriorated, the person said that the recruitment process changed. Companies began to take longer to respond, were less willing to volunteer information and be flexible in the process. Remuneration also began to change, with even very senior positions being cut back dramatically, way beyond the corrections in the market as whole, to levels that did not reflect either the experience necessary, nor the qualifications required.
The picture that emerges then is of companies taking advantage of the economic situation, thinking that the levels of unemployment must surely mean that there are lots of highly skilled and experienced people now on the dole doing nothing with mortgages to pay and families to feed. Therefore, there's all the time in the world to engage in a process to get the right people, but also as their desperation increases, they will be willing to take any job, irrespective of the pay levels.
This particular IT professional was much aggrieved and felt that prospective candidates were being treated rather shabbily by prospective employers who were now taking advantage of very unfortunate circumstances.
While there is no denying that there is more than a grain of truth to this view, this experience just adds to the overall view that the recruitment of technical people in Ireland is in deep crisis. A shortage of people with the right skills coming out of college can be traced directly to the utterly appalling, incompetent work of career advisors in schools. While this is not the only cause of the shortage, it is a major contributing factor.
Secondly, the drop-out rate from computer, maths and science courses is far too high and needs to be addressed both at school and third levels with better supports for students so that they know what they are getting themselves into before they start, but also so that the right supports are in place to allow them to thrive having embarked on the course.
And finally, when these people arrive on the market with the requisite skills, they need a recruitment sector that knows what it is doing instead of resorting to the time honoured technique of deluging organisations with many CVs in the hope that some stick.
If the country is to recover from its current predicament, we must take advantage of the fact that the tech sector here is a key element of the economy that is actually working, but only if we feed it the right people with the right skills at the right time. But that can't be done if we don't have the people, we don't have the skills and we don't have a recruitment sector that can actually match the people and skills to the needs of the industry.