Giles Knights: How Contractors Can Help Organisations Fill the IT Skills Gap

By Giles Knights, General Manager, ClearHub, part of Clearvision

While the IT contractor market has been impacted by COVID-19, as many organisations and professions have, there is still a strong requirement, potentially an even greater one, for organisations to build a level of flexibility and relevant skillsets into their teams. Engaging contractors is one way to achieve this. For those business that have IT projects that they need to deliver upon, but don’t necessarily have the in-house skills and resources to do so, hiring can seem an expensive exercise, particularly if those skills are only required for an interim period or a one-off project; this is where using a contractor can prove extremely beneficial.

There is even more of a pressing need around some of the hot technology/niche technology areas and more so now as not only enterprises, but technology providers start to move their solutions to the cloud. As you can imagine, the growth in cloud is predicted to skyrocket!

If you wind the clock back to a decade ago the entire market capitalisation of the public cloud industry totaled just under $40 billion. Fast forward to 2020 and it is now worth more than $1 trillion, with estimates for 2021 predicting this will grow to $2 trillion. Likewise, we have seen organisations like our partner Atlassian, for example, planning to stop selling new server licenses in 2021 because it believes that cloud will be the primary destination for the majority of its customers. Therefore, we anticipate a big shift to cloud with our customers, necessitating an increased number of contractors.

This year many cloud service providers (CSPs) witnessed a spike in demand as organisations migrated to the cloud quickly and at a large scale, to ensure business continuity amid the pandemic. But today, as cloud infrastructures proliferate and as organisations continue their cloud transformation journeys, they should question if they have the right tech talent in the business to complete such programmes of work and if this is an opportunity to engage with an IT contractor to help fill that skills gap?

Are contractors your cloud migration solution?

So, can contractors help organisations solve their cloud migration headache? As I mentioned earlier contractors give organisations the capacity to react and build on ideas and innovate. They provide firms with flexibility and agility in resources, so while an organisation might not feel confident to commit to hiring full-time employees, they can still move ahead with projects and have the flexibility to scale up or down as they see fit.

But IT is a vast area with many niches; not all IT contractors will be equipped with the right skills. It is hard, particularly for HR teams, to know the difference between the skills required. Therefore, it is so important to go to a specialist resourcing provider, especially if you are dealing with specialist tools. In my experience, niche roles require specialist skills which can only be obtained through many years of training and experience. Here at ClearHub, we specialise in providing cloud and Atlassian contractors. Therefore, when it comes to finding the right person equipped with the skills the team needs to help finish a project or provide specialist cloud support, going to a generalist recruitment agency for those skills might not be the best option. This is because they are too broad in terms of the types of professionals they deal with.

What to look for in your cloud migration contractor

To help, I’ve listed below some red flags that HR teams should watch out for when they are looking to hire an IT contractor, especially one with specialist skills:

  • Does the recruitment firm know their docker from their DevOps? After all, why work with someone that isn’t an expert in the tools that you use?
  • Are they really listening to your needs or are you receiving resumes that simply do not match the brief?
  • Do they have the means to technically test the contractor to ensure they have the specialist skills you require?
  • Do they offer support of any kind to the contractor? In my experience very few recruiters do, which is why we pride ourselves on providing that support – it’s a real USP for us.
  •  Do they provide any guarantees if the contractor does not work out?
  • Do they take into consideration company culture and whether the contractor is the right fit for your business?

While recruitment agencies are there to help find people jobs, they aren’t experts in the profession they are placing candidates in. This is why it is so important to seek out a specialist provider. For example, the use of collaborative software created by the likes of Atlassian requires training to achieve maximum value. Teams that are just starting out, or who have been using Atlassian software for some time and require a tidy up, often seek long-term assistance in the form of a contractor. Here at ClearHub, we provide this along with technical skills tests and tool vetting that measures the knowledge of the contractors against the requirements. ClearHub is also supported by our parent company, Clearvision, an Atlassian Platinum Solution Partner, which means that our contractors get the support they need as well as a host of other benefits.

So my advice is really check out the recruitment provider or resourcing specialist that you are thinking about placing your recruitment briefs with, after all why waste all that time, effort and money engaging a contractor that you subsequently find doesn’t have the skills for the job?