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Recruitment changes for 2017

By John Oates

Digital disruption is creating massive demand for certain technical skills. Candidates who once would have looked at a handful of IT companies for work are now in demand from dozens of companies in all areas of the economy.

Although the wider job situation in the UK remains a bit confused. Unemployment is down to 4.7 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, according to the Office of National Statistics. But wage pressure is low too – 2.3 per cent which means it is only just exceeding inflation.

But demand for skills like software development and programming, data analysis, quantitative analysis from banks, financial institutions, and even utilities looking to exploit Internet of Things technology continues to grow.

The top five specific programming languages, according to the ITJobswatch survey of adverts, show that demand for traditional technology skills remains high too – C languages come in at number three and number seven, with Python taking fifth spot.

In descending order the top five in demand languages in 2017 are SQL, JavaScript, C#, Java and Python.

But there is also strong demand for broader skills for posts like quantitative risk analysts, model validators, researchers and project managers.

There is also growing demand for newer skill sets like machine learning, artificial intelligence and big data analysis.

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The banking industry is facing unprecedented digital disruption and with it increasing need for technical staff.

These pressures include growing demand for online access to services, mobile payments, automated advice systems, crypto-currencies like Bitcoin and peer-to-peer lending platforms.

To deal with these challenges banks are rapidly increasing the number of techies they recruit.

Last year Deutsche Bank said it would double the number of technology graduates it was looking to recruit.

Alongside developing new services and products the banks still need to optimise existing legacy infrastructures and deal with evolving cyber security threats.

Banks are also trying to promote a different working culture because they are competing for candidates with technology companies with typically flatter corporate structures, more relaxed working practises and the temptation of share options.

Companies are also using new techniques to find and test the candidates they need.

DBS Bank in Singapore recently used online testing followed by a two day hackathon to test not just technical skills but also wider problem solving abilities. The bank used the different approach to find 100 developers it needed for digital transformation and to develop its cloud services.

Most UK banks run similar hackathon events to find staff.

The Royal Bank of Scotland used gamification techniques and brain sensors to gauge potential candidates and suggest different areas of the bank which might suit their skills and personalities.

Banks are also using investments to get the staff by buying companies which have the skilled staff they need.

There have been several straight buyouts of start-up fintech firms to get access to talented staff as well as technology.

A survey from IDC last year found one in five banks in Europe now view fintech companies as likely acquisition targets. Researchers also found an important role for collaboration alongside straight buy outs – 40 per cent of UK banks saw fintechs as likely collaborators as well as competitors.

Collaboration can by a key way for companies to get access to the skills they need when they need them and avoid the time and expense of standard recruitment.

Successful firms will need to make best use of existing hiring of both permanent and contract staff as well as look to partners and collaborators for help to ensure they are not left behind as the skills the business needs evolves and changes.

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