The UK’s business leaders and hiring managers are crying out for great new technical talent to develop their corporate strategies, build outstanding digital platforms and grab market share.
And yet the political circumstances have rarely been more challenging.
A significant challenge to recruitment is the introduction of IR35 ‘off payroll’ rules in the private sector from April 2020. As in the public sector, private sector organisations will be made responsible and liable for administering the IR35 status of contractors they engage. The new regulation could bring with it a range of compliance issues and added costs for a large number of contractors and employers.
However, the biggest issue in the industry at this point is Brexit which is widening the digital skills gap by potentially limiting the movement of people within the EEA and also causing general unrest and uncertainty in the overall economy.
Ever since the surprise results of the 2016 EU referendum both private and public sector organisations have been waiting in anticipation for a clear-cut deal that will make the future more certain. Many businesses have put off significant investment decisions, delayed key programmes and been very reluctant to recruit new employees.
Nonetheless, I think it’s now evident to all of us that that a definitive deal or solution will not be available for some time. Instead, we must all learn how to operate in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complicated and ambiguous) world.
Uncertainty is the new “Business As Usual” so get used to it.
Organisations that survive Brexit and manage to adapt to IR35 requirements will all have something in common. They are brave enough to drive change themselves, be proactive and make their own decisions. I’m reluctant to use a Brexit slogan, but there is a need to ‘take back control’.
Successful companies will have the courage to invest and drive forward their business, digital and people programmes without having all the answers.
I firmly believe that tackling the challenges of Brexit and IR35 with a proactive approach in mind is the best way to prepare:
Keep up with the latest news and monitor developments relevant to the industry, factoring them into your plan as necessary.
Explore new collaborative partnerships with resourcing agencies, clients, suppliers and other market players.
Make sure that you and your resourcing partner stay on top of ever-changing legislation. A good recruitment consultancy will research potential regulatory changes and other issues for each possibility to be able to actively adjust and take advantage.
Invest in agile and flexible solutions that can extend their core functionality to comply with regulatory changes, customer expectations, and unique business requirements. Archaic legacy systems could be holding you back from making necessary changes to your business.
In order to utilise budgets and resources efficiently and comply with IR35, it’s key that companies define the milestones, deliverables and outcomes for your programmes very clearly from the outset. Again, an experienced resourcing partner should be able to guide you on this.
Communicate and collaborate closely with contractors. Companies and resourcers offering transparency and clarity to contractors will be better placed to attract them when IR35 changes are introduced. In addition, many contractors will have already undertaken their own due diligence and collated evidence relevant for their IR35 status.
I would encourage business leaders to trial new ways of attracting and retaining tech talent. For example, many organisations work closely with the education sector to develop internships and academies to secure and support the next generation of tech talent. Initiatives that aim to attract tech candidates from underrepresented talent pools such as certain ethnic minorities or socio-economic groups should also be explored. This is a chance to put your diversity and inclusion policy into practice and reap the benefits.
Ensure you have brilliant people that are able to constantly change, adapt and iterate your programmes. Your technical project teams must possess not only great IT skills but also the personal characteristics of an agile and proactive workforce.
My overarching message is that companies simply cannot afford to sit back and wait. The UK tech industry must get used to the uncertainty of Brexit and the certainty of IR35 and simply go for it.
Embrace the challenge, appoint a great resourcing partner and shape your own future.