News, Blog, Employment, Awards, Careers | Wednesday 28th April 2021

Back in January I reported that the main challenges for senior leaders, business owners and HR professionals in 2021 would include the change in workforce design, flexible working arrangements, strategic workforce planning, diversity and inclusion, and talent shortages in critical skill sets.

The latest IHS Markit review from KMPG and REC shows that permanent placements are rising sharply, new vacancies have been opened at the fastest pace since August 2018 and the current candidate market is one of the toughest for years.

In a candidate market as stagnant as this, those challenges have become even more acute, particularly those around workforce planning, talent shortages and, for our industry, diversity and inclusion.  In the last six weeks we have spoken to numerous companies who are looking to expand their workforce, both in the short term, either through replacement hires or growth, but more importantly over the course of the next 12 months on the back of strong market confidence in the fire and security industry.  All of these companies are similarly as focused on diversity and inclusion, but by looking to tackle that problem alone, it is not possible to come up with a solution.  

The technical fire and security industry is simply not diverse enough.  For example, a recent review of our applications showed a 2% application rate from female engineers for engineering roles.  

So how can we tackle the problem?  By first of all looking within and creating a structure and framework of support and success, we can then start to tap into the varied and diverse pools of talent that exist outside of our industry.  By then combining that support framework with a structured training programme, that talent then has the highest possible chance of success. By changing our tone, our attitude, our routes to market and some simple processes, the fire and security industry can make huge strides in attracting a variety of people from more backgrounds.

We are about to start a number of projects in partnership with employers that combine planning, DNI, strategy and talent shortages in a complete 12 - 24 month solution that we believe can have transformational success for those companies.  If you wish to find out more, please get in touch.

Elsewhere, jobs are booming, in particular across Europe.  UK-based companies are delivering complex, varied integration projects across the whole of the continent giving engineers more than ever the opportunity to experience and work in different cultures and environments.   Due to these factors, despite candidates being reluctant to pursue new roles amid fears over job security, it has never been a better time to do so in the fire and security industry.  As we proved last year with our Covid survey, which you can still see here, the fire and security industry is as safe as it has ever been.

Wishing you all an extremely enjoyable Spring.

George Zitko 

Founder and Managing Director

Market Update – 23/04/21

Technical: (Phil West – Director)

  • When it comes to engineering and permanent technical positions, it’s clear that the availability of suitable candidates is way lower than the number of vacancies. Everyone is hiring. The bounce is in full-effect and everyone is hoping to find the best talent, but in reality, there aren’t many people available. We’ve seen very few redundancies and furlough seems to be a thing of the past. Everyone is working and many are sticking with what they’ve got.
  • Although this is quite understandable, it is also a missed opportunity. There has never been a better time to find a new job within the security industry, as a skilled engineer will have their pick of all the best companies.
  • For companies looking to recruit it is of vital importance that you look at your hiring – this includes your company brand, particularly as an employer, your interview process, your offers, ensuring you have a USP or reason people want to work for you, and, of course, your recruitment partners. Any decent candidate is going to be offered 5-10 interviews, if not more… make sure you know the answer to ‘why should they join you?’.

Sales: (Dave Geddes – Director)

  • On the integration side, more and more clients are speaking with us about increasing headcount on their sales teams all over the UK. Mostly focused on Business Development professionals and Regional Sales Managers, we do have a couple of openings that are a good split of Account Management and Business Development.
  • In some cases, our clients will be able to support an engineer or designer / estimator who is commercially sound and eager to increase their earnings and ditch the overtime by moving into a sales position.
  • Manufacturers in the UK and across EMEA are making big progress also. For a few months there has been headcount approved, but it’s still been fairly slow, potentially down to candidate hesitancy, but also down to clients taking their time as the market picks up. Now though it seems like the tide has changed with placings made in 4 European countries in the last 3 weeks - exciting times ahead!

Contracting: (Laura Raven – Director)

  • Contracting has again continued to build over the last 6 weeks. May sees a further big uplift in larger projects starting, with lots of year-long plans due to kick off. If you are going to be needing resource in the coming months, now is the time to be booking those in. We can see a shortage of good labour coming, so get in quick.
  • IR35 has come into effect this month, with varying consequences on clients and contractors. If you still haven’t got your head around this, call us for a chat. 
  • We are currently delivering the service books and scopes of work of several of clients.  In doing this, we are not only taking away the hassle for managing this often time consuming process, but also then taking on the responsibility of IR35. If you would like to know more, contact Laura Raven.

Talent: (Priya Vencatasawmy – Senior Consultant)

  • As we only officially launched 7 months ago, the division is scaling and building its reputation as the number one Talent solution for the industry.
  • Considering the on-going current climate, it has been a proud moment for this new division to place trainee engineers via the Talent programme with their respective employers.
  • There is still a fantastic pipeline of candidates coming from similar backgrounds with lots of transferable skills sets and the pool of talent is diverse and growing!
  • Our partnership with Skills for Security has meant we are able to offer the option of government incentives through a fast-track apprenticeship programme, which gives our Talent employers extra money.
  • We are always engaging with potential talent prospects and working on some exiting projects.
  • Looking for more Trainee Engineers to join your business? Follow this link for more information: Discover the key to your security tech talent challenge | Zitko Talent.

Resourcing: (Terri Lalonde – Director)

  • As we enter the Spring season, there is a feeling of hopeful optimism in the air. The ending of some restrictions, the speedy vaccination roll-out, and the general feeling that normality is starting to resume is definitely having an impact on the market. We have never been busier in the Resourcing team here, supporting with the ever-increasing number of vacancies coming through.
  • This means the need to engage with the relatively small candidate pool and “sell” them the benefits of moving to a new employer.  How they were treated over lockdown has changed their outlook somewhat, so that they are far more particular about who they want to go and work for.
  • Job security has come to the forefront, along with the desire to train and develop and have a general feeling of being supported by a company. Money is very rarely the main motivator.
  • So, if you are looking to hire, think about how you would answer the question “Why should a prospective employee join your business? What’s in it for them?” 

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