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unprecedented

adjective

never having happened or existed in the past

 

This is a word used more over the last 3 weeks, than it has been in the rest of our lives combined.

 

The amount of pain and anguish caused by the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic is unquestionable, however, it is through these trying times that communities come together to show some of the kindest and most selfless acts.

 

At times like this, it is important that every business and individual plays their part.

 

As a recruitment business our primary focus is of course to keep the community employed, however, beyond this we have an on going NHS fundraiser, as well as providing free insight and support to anyone in our network who might need it.

 

One way we have shared our thoughts and perspective on what we are seeing is through organising an ‘Ask Me Anything (AMA)’ forum on the McrTech Slack channel.

 

With so many changes in such a short amount of time, we have set about trying to answer some of the tech community’s most burning questions:

 

 

Q – John

Where do you see the contract market going after this initial panic by clients?

A – Holly

Morning John, great question and one I’ve been thinking and looking into a lot lately. Personally, and this is based on pure qualitative data, once the initial panic is over I think the contract market will stand strong. Over the past few weeks, I’ve still been placing contractors (2 Android devs last week, and an offer pending this afternoon). I’ve had contractors that have been extended that were due to finish on 31st March but have been extended due to the delay in IR35. I think the contract solution is a stable and flexible solution for clients, especially in the current climate. Whilst I’ve had projects ‘put on hold’ recently, these companies have made it clear they NEED this resource, but are purely waiting to see how the market changes. The work is still going to be there, and I think contractors will be valued more so than ever. This is also a good opportunity as a contractor to really put yourself out there, I’ve been advising my contractors to offer mentorship or support to other members in the community too.

 

Q – John

Do you think clients that had deemed all contractors inside IR35 will rethink that decision now there has been a year delay?

A – Adam

Thanks for this John. We have already started to see a mixed approach by clients since the announcement of the reform postponement. The majority have, as you may suspect, pushed this issue back a year and have reverted back to the use of Ltd company contractors. There are however a number of businesses who have committed so much time and money towards their reform strategy that they have decided to continue to make inside determinations and only use PAYE contractors.

By doing this, these businesses put themselves on the back-foot for attracting the best Contractor talent over the next year, however have dealt with the reform that others have merely pushed back.

 

Q – Vince

What “ethical” companies exist in Manchester i.e. not just selling crap

A – Mark

I think now more than ever the focus will be on Health Tech and how we as a nation can combat this. This is as well as the renewable energy sector, as we have all seen the pollution level drop in the lockdown (and no this isn’t me saying fully remote working is the answer). I am personally working with a HealthTech client currently, who are doing some great things about getting the right people available for clinical trials, as 80% of clinical trials don’t reach completion which is of course a huge shame. A list of companies I would look at are Evergreen Smart Power, alongside Culture Shift who are a business doing a lot of good things at the minute.

 

Q – Graeme

Do you think large businesses (as the HMRC defines them) will be better prepared for the IR35 reforms with another year to get used to it? If so, how so?

A – Adam

Absolutely Graeme, how can you not be better prepared now you have a 12 month warning!? haha But in all seriousness, some big businesses were struggling to find the agility to make the necessary decisions and process changes to be ready for this year. This was resulting in very ‘clunky’ communication with suppliers and in some cases, I feel was the catalyst for some of the blanket inside determinations we were seeing. With the substantial delay in this reform, I now expect (and hope) to see more of the larger businesses taking the extra care to make individual role assessments and consequently keep a larger amount of their roles Outside and open to Ltd companies.

 

Q – James

Have there been many redundancies amongst permanent software engineers since the outbreak? I haven’t heard of too many, but I appreciate that may be limited to my network.

A – Megan

Hi James in all honesty, I have heard of a few but not as many as I thought, I think companies need their software engineers more than ever right now, companies are trying to forward think if anything and keep on the essential staff as services still need to be carried out. Companies have asked for flexibility from their staff, whether that be reduced hours or taking a pay reduction to assist. I have also heard of a few people who have been furloughed but they have been reassured job security. Technology is everything these days!

 

Q – Matt

Many thanks for hosting an AMA. Which skills are most in demand at present?

A – Dean

Hi Matt, thank you for the question. On the contract market we have seen a particular pattern in React being used on the front end by a lot of companies. Vue is a rising skill that more companies are turning to which could also be interesting for the future. Alongside this we are seeing a growth in the desire of Typescript, GraphQL and Gatsby, which could be a real advantage within any Developer’s skill set.

 

Q – Vince

What about “backend” skills? Much call for functional languages?

A – Mark

Great answer Dean, I would also add Python and Go too, alongside a definite rise in DevOps and Cloud skills including Docker, Fargate, EC2, etc. We have noticed a real trend recently of I am seeing more and more companies utilising .net core rather than Node or PHP.

 

Q – Danny Mc

With all the negativity currently on LinkedIn you guys seem to be consistently positive, so first of all thank you as the content is refreshing. My question is how do you do it?

A – Holly

Hi Danny Mc good question, thank you! In a time like this, I think it’s important for the community to stand together. For us, we try and remain as involved in the community as we can in anyway, organising events, sponsoring meet-ups, offering support and hiring intel etc. Even more so now, this community work needs to continue and our support network needs to be stronger than ever. The cogs keep turning, and we will continue to keep finding opportunities for our network. Positivity breeds positivity and the Manchester tech scene is an incredibly inclusive group, it’s refreshing to see everyone pulling together!

 

Q – datoon83

Do you think remote will become the norm?

A – Mark

I personally am not a fan of fully remote working, I live alone and find it tough not being around my team. I also think it raises a lot of Mental Health Issues and think that a lot of people are seeing and feeling the lack of human interaction with the recent lockdown. If everyone went fully remote I wonder if we as a society could actually forget how to socialise face2face!?

I know some countries like Japan are experiencing this and are looking at ways to reverse the trend on a social level. We are also in danger of seeing more introverted individuals finding socialising more difficult as they aren’t seeing work colleagues or getting out of the house as frequently. I think a lot of companies, who thought they couldn’t do remote working, now know they can. So I think there is a possibility that more flex could be offered and they will maybe offer 1 day a week (if they haven’t before) or move to a part remote strategy.

I spoke to a developer recently who was fully remote and they said that to work in an agile manner and to deliver this huge project having a remote team didn’t really work. I found this to be an interesting point. That could of course be down to that specific business’ strategies, but I don’t think this crisis will make everyone go fully remote, as that isn’t the answer for everyone and everything. Another person said to me he enjoyed working remotely as he could sleep in and lie in bed all morning, which is definitely not the right attitude towards remote working! I get some people have families and spending their time with them is vital, but it should be more about individual flexibility and not to use this crisis as a blanket way of pushing fully remote.

 

Q – Olivia

Are there any particular courses/training certifications you’re seeing regularly amongst your network? A lot of people are using this period productively to upskill etc: I’m wondering if you’ve noticed any trends/patterns to recommend to Devs out there?

A – Holly

Hi! Great question! I think the junior developers coming through the likes of Northcoders are fantastic, I’ve personally been doing a little side project at the moment to intro them to a ‘mentor’, someone who’s a mid-senior level developer or even a tech lead / head of software to help the juniors even more so on their coding journey. The lack of opportunities Vs junior developers coming through is very low, so I feel having a mentor and someone who can help to guide and upskill you and help on your journey, make intro’s for you etc is so important and this is something I’ll carry on facilitating. Also, I also went through freecodecamp myself and would highly recommend it to anyone starting out in their coding career. My biggest piece of advice to a developer would be to find a mentor, get involved in personal projects, upload your work to GitHub and immerse yourself in the community as much as you can. There’s some amazing meetups out there too, and the amazing thing about the tech community is it’s so inclusive and there’s no shortage of amazing developers out there who can support juniors coming onto the tech scene!

 

Q – Matt

What comments would you have about supply vs demand for contract positions at present? Is there a lot of competition for available positions? Has this changed recently?

A – Dean

Demand has decreased across the full market at the present time, due to businesses deciding to hold more cash within the business, rather than spend, which at this time is understandable. I am thinking that we might actually start to see an increase in contractor hiring due to the flexibility that allows – however isn’t reflected in the market as a whole yet.

In addition to this, there are some industries and businesses who still require contractors as they are looking at the longer-term and have clients who are in more resilient sectors.

We have recently seen the supply of contractors across the region increase, with a number of the large contract hirers (Booking, skybet, etc) letting them go.

 

Q – Ioannis

Hi, my name is Ioannis and this topic is a great idea. My concern is the following. I’ve been looking to work at the IT sector and since the first announcement of the lockdown, I have done interviews and code challenges successfully, but the only feedback I have is “recruitment procedures are freezing due to coronavirus” and similar messages. The past three days I have seen some other companies do remote recruiting, but they are rare. Is there any indication that IT companies will follow this example and how fast can it be? T

A – Dean

This is a great question, first of all I am glad you like the idea of the AMA! It’s a great way to get the Tech community together and address some of the burning questions and concerns that people might have. The last few weeks have been fairly challenging for most people, with a number of projects currently being put on hold due to Covid-19. This however isn’t the same for every project thankfully!

We still have a number of interviews happening which is always positive, as we want everyone within the industry satisfied with a role. In terms of remote working, I personally think this current situation will make companies have a long think and see how beneficial remote working might be for them as a business, now its proven to them that it can actually work! With regards to remote interviewing, this is very effective and our clients have seen it this way to. As time goes on and if it looks like this will become a more long-term setup, I feel we will see more companies push ahead with recruitment. There is an awkward limbo at the moment, but I think we will have more clarity in a week when the lockdown is reviewed. We would of course be happy to help you secure a role within the IT sector, so do get in touch outside of the AMA if you’d like our support.

 

Q – datoon83

Has the current crisis slowed the number of new recruitment companies being spawned? Will this lead to a consolidation in the market – as it’s pretty saturated at the moment?

A – Megan

It’s hard to comment too much on other businesses, however it is times like this where being an established businesses with a great network of people is more important than ever! Yes we have to be considered and sensible in our approach, but it is important to keep looking forward. That said I’m not sure it’s a buoyant market that would support a lot of new recruitment businesses setting up! If anything, like you mentioned, I would expect to see some of the less established businesses fall by the wayside unfortunately, allowing those businesses with a strong reputation to thrive and continue doing what they do best.

 

Q – Elliott

What percentage of contracts have been cut early as a result of this virus (from a recruiters perspective)?

A – Holly

Hi @Elliott Parkinson – great to see you in here! Hope you’re doing ok. Personally, I’ve only had one of my current contract runners contract be cut short, but on the other hand I’ve had last minute contracts (that were due to finish on 31st March) that have been extended due to IR35 delay. So in essence I’ve had more contract extensions than finishers. But, that’s not to say that contractors aren’t being let go, because I know there are a few that have definitely had their contracts cut short. But personally, my contractor network has not been affected as much as I’d have thought, sector related perhaps, as 7 of my contractors are with an E-learning company, and for a lot of businesses the cogs keep turning!

I have been speaking to other contractors who aren’t in this fortunate position, so I’m spending a lot of time sourcing new opportunities for contractors who are on the market due to this situation. Rest assured, there are still opportunities, there are still people hiring and we will keep up with our pro-active approach to the community for sure.

It’s difficult to put a percentage on it, as there are a lot of companies who are letting go of contractors in bulk like booking.com for example or AmazeRealise which of course will skew these % figures.

 

 

There are of course many, many more unanswered questions out there and these answers are only our opinions formed from what we are seeing & hearing and most certainly not “fact”.

 

The feedback we have received from the community so far has been great, so expect to see many more of these AMAs in the coming weeks and months.

 

In the meantime, please get in touch with the team on LinkedIn or contact me on adam.ferguson@venturi-group.com if there is anything you would like to discuss!