Forget recruiting,,,

A recent discussion on the BCS Voices site has been tackling whether re-skilling staff is better than recruiting - and, to confess, it was me that started the conversation and I like slightly contentious, perhaps over-confidently definitive, titles. Hence: ‘Reskilling is better than recruiting...’

We know that IT people are in short supply. We also know that recruiting new staff is expensive and risky - new starters may not mesh with your company culture and their skills can sometimes be different from those trumpeted on a CV. And existing employees have a great advantage: they’re a known quantity and they know the corporate culture.

So, doesn’t it follow that it’s better to upskill existing IT staff as opposed to looking externally for new talent?

Fortunately those that joined the thread had more nuanced views. BCS member Thivanka Vithanage said that such an approach would have mixed results and suggests that an initial competency analysis on the workforce will give a better overview on the skills you own in the organisation - then that should inform whether to develop existing staff or to source from outside. Although he does note a positive of internal development as ‘the benefit of employee retention, since it would grow when current employees are given opportunities to learn and develop further.’

Strangely, as noted by James Hammond, ‘businesses still see upskilling/investing in staff as more of a risk than recruiting new people into their businesses, despite plenty of evidence to the contrary.’

And another commenter backed this up, listing the benefits of training up your own staff rather than trying to recruit as:

  • Increased job satisfaction and morale among employees;
  • Increased employee motivation;
  • Increased efficiencies in processes, resulting in financial gain;
  • Increased capacity to adopt new technologies and methods;
  • Increased innovation in strategies and products;
  • Reduced employee turnover;
  • Enhanced company image;
  • Better risk management.

The member quotes the source?

As member Peter Stockdale comments, maintaining skills and competencies for existing staff in the IT sector is vital anyway, so there are always issues around how to provide training. He cites the range - from online courses and other self-study to the more difficult professional qualifications and technical certifications.

‘Although,’ he says, ‘in the climate of cost, value and profit I can see having more staff on shorter fixed term contracts certainly allows for a continuous flow of new trained qualified staff up to the latest standard. Not an approach I would endorse or support.’

Got views? Contribute to this, and many other conversations on the theme of making IT good for society.

About the author
Brian RuncimanBrian is Head of Content at BCS and blogs about the Institute’s role in making IT good for society, historical developments in computing, the implications of CS research and more.

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