Top Trends Impacting the Upstate Job Market
By Brooks Israel, Co-Founder and Managing Partner, The Hiring Group
As leading businesses in the Upstate continue to announce expansions, and as more global companies relocate to the area, the future is bright for the job market. Over the last eight months, hiring for technology and engineering fields has steadily increased both in full time positions as well as contractor roles. There are several key trends that are fueling demand for these technical positions.
Trend #1 – “War on Talent” Remains and “War for Retention” is Emerging
Across the staffing and recruiting industry, in particular the technology and engineering fields, a “war for talent” remains, as demand for highly specialized technical skill sets is at a premium. In the first six months of 2017, there was a steep increase in demand for contingent-based technology and engineering talent, with digital transformation, automation and agile development being key drivers. Over the last 12 months, 92 percent of contractors hired by The Hiring Group had to put in their notice to their previous employer.
As the ‘war on talent’ increases, there is also a “war for retention.” For companies leveraging technical contractors, there is significant risk when contractors leave a company to take a different opportunity at another company. For large, multi-million-dollar technology projects the gaps filled by a contractor leaving can create significant pain in terms of project milestones, as well as business and operational downtime. In a recent survey of hiring managers conducted by The Hiring Group, 97 percent of respondents indicated that “contractor attrition” was a top concern.
Trend #2 Security and Compliance Initiatives Are Increasing
As the “data threat” landscape continues to intensify, security and compliance remain top priorities across all industries. In the first half of 2017, The Hiring Group experienced a 60 percent increase in security and compliance-related job requisitions. IT security and compliance analysts are in extremely high demand. Companies are also focused on cross-training these security and compliance teams to avoid a talent shortage.
Trend #3 Digital and Enterprise Transformation Are Being Driven By the C-Suite
In every organization, digital and enterprise transformation initiatives are leading the list of corporate priorities from the top down. The big data revolution has catalyzed organizations to measure, track and analyze every facet of their business. Having this insight is exposing areas of the business where improvements are needed, either in terms of technology improvements or process and people-centered changes. Companies of all sizes are under significant pressure to drive down operational costs, while also meeting increasing production targets at the same time. Leveraging contracted technical professionals helps these companies adapt and adjust as transformations take place within the organization.
Trend #4 Automation and Robotic Automation Are Becoming the New Reality
As enterprise transformation continues to climb to the top of the priority list for most organizations, new initiatives using artificial intelligence (AI), cognitive technologies and robotic automation are being launched to help build efficiencies and increase quality within plant operations. As these companies increase the frequency and scale of these projects across the enterprise, the demand for mechanical and automation engineers is growing. For these projects to be successful, organizations are focused on retaining retain great contractors and hiring for long-term, multi-year contracts.
Trend #5 Hypercompetitive Job Market Means Underperformers Need to Be Prepared
A healthier and more vibrant job market means the supply/demand for talent vs. job availability is relatively balanced. However, in the case of IT and engineering positions, the “war on talent” is creating a wider gap for the highly specialized technical skill sets. Companies are paying a premium for these technologists and engineers. On the other end of the spectrum, however, organizations are beginning to focus on what to do about underperformers. As part of the enterprise-wide focus on driving quality, any employees that are underperforming compared to the skills required to perform their jobs are either being utilized in other areas of the business or trained to perform other jobs.
Moving Ahead into 2018
Demand for technology and engineering jobs in the Upstate is at a historical high, and the outlook continues to look bright. As companies continue to build their teams to support enterprise-level initiatives, organizations are exploring more flexible “contingent” workforce alternatives versus conventional hiring practices. Companies that embrace innovation and agile workforce business practices will move into the leader positions by quickly adapting to market and consumer demands.