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Greenville Business Magazine

Five hiring trends impacting the Upstate tech job market

Dec 07, 2018 09:33AM ● By Kathleen Maris
By Brooks Israel
Co-Founder and Managing Partner, The Hiring Group

As leading businesses in the Upstate continue to announce expansions, and as more global companies relocate to the area, the future is bright for the job market. Throughout 2018, hiring for technology and engineering fields steadily increased both in full-time positions as well as contractor roles. 

There are several key trends that are fueling demand for these technical positions as companies head into 2019. 

Trend No. 1: The war on retention is the most critical issue facing companies in the Upstate.
Across the staffing and recruiting industry, especially the technology and engineering fields, a war for talent remains, as demand for highly specialized technical skill sets is at a premium. In 2018, there was a steep increase in demand for contingent-based technology and engineering talent, with digital transformation, automation, and agile development being key drivers. Over the last 12 months, 96 percent of contractors hired by The Hiring Group had to put in their notice to their previous employer.

As the war on talent increases, there is also a war for retention. For companies leveraging technical contractors in 2019, there is significant risk when contractors leave a company to take a different opportunity at another company. For large, multimillion-dollar technology projects, the gaps filled by a contractor leaving can create significant pain in terms of project milestones, as well as business and operational downtime. In a recent survey of hiring managers conducted by The Hiring Group, 97 percent of respondents indicated that contractor attrition was a top concern. Many of the respondents noted their concern was contractors leaving for full-time positions that provided more attractive benefits packages such as medical, dental, and vision insurance and paid time off. 

Trend No. 2: Security and compliance initiatives are increasing.
As the “data threat” landscape continues to intensify, security and compliance remain top priorities across all industries. Over the course of 2018, The Hiring Group experienced a 60 percent increase in security and compliance-related job requisitions. IT security and compliance analysts are in extremely high demand. Companies are also focused on cross-training these security and compliance teams to avoid a talent shortage. According to Frost & Sullivan, by 2022 there will be 265,000 more data-security jobs than skilled workers. Companies will be forced to pay higher salaries or rates, or, alternatively, retool and/or train workers to keep up with the demand.

As of May 2018, General Data Protection Regulation is fully enforceable, and companies are hyper-focused on strengthening data protection and driving compliance to this new regulation. The Hiring Group anticipates that throughout the remainder of 2018, hiring for data security and governance analysts will increase as more exposure to potential threats arise. 

Trend No. 3: Digital and enterprise transformation are being driven by the C-Suite.
In every organization, digital and enterprise transformation initiatives are leading the list of corporate priorities from the top down. The big data revolution has catalyzed organizations to measure, track, and analyze every facet of their business. Having this insight is exposing areas of the business where improvements are needed, either in terms of technology improvements or process- and people-centered changes. Companies of all sizes are under significant pressure to drive down operational costs, while also meeting increasing production targets at the same time. Leveraging contracted technical professionals helps these companies adapt and adjust as transformations take place within the organization.

Trend No. 4:  Automation and robotic automation are real and in practice.
As enterprise transformation continues to climb to the top of the priority list for most organizations, new initiatives using artificial intelligence, cognitive technologies, and robotic automation are being launched to help build efficiencies and increase quality within plant operations. As these companies increase the frequency and scale of these projects across the enterprise, the demand for mechanical and automation engineers is growing. For these projects to be successful, organizations are focused on attracting and retaining great contractors for long-term, multi-year contracts. 

Trend No. 5: A hyper-competitive job market means underperformers need to be prepared.
A healthier and more vibrant job market means the supply and demand for talent vs. job availability is relatively balanced. However, in the case of IT and engineering positions, the war for talent is creating a wider gap for the highly specialized technical skill sets. Companies are paying a premium for these technologists and engineers. On the other end of the spectrum, however, organizations are beginning to focus on what to do about underperformers. As part of the enterprise-wide focus on driving employee performance, any employees that are underperforming compared to the skills required to perform their jobs are either being utilized in other areas of the business or being trained to perform other jobs.

Moving ahead into 2019
Demand for technology and engineering jobs in the Upstate is at a historical high, and the outlook continues to look bright. As companies continue to build their teams to support enterprise-level initiatives, organizations are exploring more flexible “contingent” workforce alternatives versus conventional hiring practices. Companies that embrace innovation and agile workforce business practices in 2019 will move into the leader positions by quickly adapting to market and consumer demands.