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July 29, 2016updated 21 Oct 2016 4:25pm

Does the traditional IT department exist anymore?

One survey suggests not, as recruitment and talent acquisition shifts

By Sam

Six in ten IT leaders (59%) believe the ‘traditional’ IT department no longer exists in modern business.

The optimum IT teams of 2020 will be vastly different from the ones we know today with a rise in contingent workers, wider skill sets, and a shift in team age range and gender balance.

For a report, Tomorrows Tech Teams, professional talent provision firm Experis surveyed 1,000 IT workers and 200 senior IT managers to explore the current and future strategy for the UK’s IT department.

It revealed that IT leaders are seeing rising demands placed upon their teams to deliver additional services – such as cloud computing (61%), offering greater strategic input for critical business decision-making (57%) and increasing use of mobile apps (53%).

To meet these demands and help plug the current skills gap in this sector, 69% of IT leaders believe they will become more reliant on temporary and short-term contingent staff, as they think such candidates can provide greater flexibility (52%), fresh perspectives (49%) and unique skills (44%). Further, 59% of IT leaders and workers combined expect to see an increase in people from non-tech backgrounds entering IT departments over the next two years.

The research also found that IT departments plan to employ a mixture of both male and female workers from different age groups who possess different skills. In particular, the ratio of male and female workers is predicted to shift substantially, with more women entering the sector. Currently, the percentage is 71% male and 29% female; this is expected to shift to 59% male and 41% female.

Geoff Smith, Managing Director of Experis, commented: “Today’s tech team dynamic is unsustainable. Businesses and their IT teams need to think about building 2020’s optimum team now to support changing demands and achieve digital transformation. It’s encouraging to see a rise in female and millennial workers anticipated, as businesses address the current imbalance and recognise the essential skills they can bring.

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“IT and HR managers must become more agile and work together to identify the brightest and best candidates, as well as existing team members, that possess wider business skills and a strategic mindset that IT teams need. While contingent workers will become increasingly important to deliver short-term change, IT should also look for people who have the aspiration to sit at the boardroom table, contributing ideas on how IT can support future transformation, bring innovative projects to fruition and enable business growth and competitive edge. But, the right candidates for the job don’t necessarily need a strong tech background.”

To support these anticipated team changes, IT leaders believe they will have to alter their approach to tech recruitment, with 37% expecting to see an increase in social sourcing (i.e. through Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn) and a further 33% predicting that crowd sourcing candidates (using wider online networks, forums and communities) will become commonplace.

Smith continued: “As IT and business requirements evolve, tech teams and recruitment methods need to be nimble and keep up with change. Using social media channels for identifying and approaching potential candidates isn’t new, but the research shows this is growing. Employers and their recruiters will turn to wider online networks and communities to source and regularly engage with individuals – using platforms that will be relevant to the specific candidate skills they are after. However, it’s important they use these channels intelligently. Understanding personal interests and experiences of each audience, and building relationships by speaking their ‘language’ in the right tone will be critical.”

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