How European companies can overcome skills shortages
Businesses must stay up to date with the latest technological developments in order to compete with their rivals, which means the need for experienced IT professionals will continue to grow.
Although some European companies find it a challenge to hire suitably-talented technicians - either on a full-time or temporary basis - there are a number of ways firms can overcome skills shortages.
1) Think long-term and nurture talent
One of the biggest problems facing companies is that youngsters are not receiving the right kind of training or education.
The European Commission believes the best way to resolve this issue is for businesses to work more closely with schools and universities, giving them an opportunity to have more input into the curriculum. This will give youngsters a better chance of fitting straight into a firm once they have finished their education.
Cisco is one multinational corporation that has taken a long-term approach to tackling skills gaps. It has set up a network of academies across Europe, with more than 6,000 instructors nurturing the next generation of technology specialists.
These facilities allow Cisco to teach people exactly what they will need to know when they eventually come to work for the company and it is planning to roll out the scheme in the Asia-Pacific region too.
In December 2013, the organisation announced plans to invest in the development of 400,000 networking professionals over a five-year period. With two million IT jobs expected to be unfilled in ten years' time, Cisco feels it can help matters by developing a substantial number of technology experts.
2) Work alongside a specialist consultancy
Cisco's approach to generating new talent pools is effective in the longer term, but many companies need IT specialists who can join their teams now.
The very best and most experienced talent can be difficult to find, which is why more companies are turning to specialist consultancies for help. These organisations can select contractors with a specific set of skills who are most likely to succeed in the role you are looking to fill.
With the European economy mounting a recovery, it is important that businesses have access to talented people who can help them to grow. HR departments are now becoming more influential within modern firms, so their list of responsibilities will naturally increase.
Outsourcing certain tasks - such as the hiring of new workers - to a third-party can allow HR teams to focus on other matters.
3) Be flexible - introduce different hiring strategies
More companies are hiring IT specialists on a contract basis and this arrangement benefits both parties.
Employers do not need to worry about holiday entitlements and statutory sickness pay, while IT professionals generally have more freedom to choose the best jobs if they are not tied down to a permanent contract. This kind of flexibility is important if businesses are to successfully tackle skills shortages.
It is also vital that corporations do not limit themselves in the search for new talent. There has been a lot of debate about why more women are not securing highly-paid IT jobs and gender diversity is something the European Commission is keen to promote.
A greater number of firms are also attempting to bring in skilled individuals from outside the EU. Some countries have lifted restrictions on the entry of foreign workers in special circumstances.
In the UK, for example, the coalition government has announced plans to open up an Exceptional Talent visa, which will allow digital organisations to hire non-EU citizens who have a proven track record in helping businesses to grow and coming up with new innovations.
4) Make your company stand out
With businesses competing against each other for the most talented and experienced IT professionals, it is crucial that firms stand out from their rivals.
IT contractors and freelancers are in a strong position, as their skills are highly sought after. This means they can choose jobs and contracts that provide the best perks and remuneration packages.
Offering bonuses for successfully completed projects is a good way to attract the best talent, while companies that have a good reputation for helping workers adapt to their new surroundings and lifestyle will always appeal to foreign IT specialists.