14 Jul 2021 | 11.57 am
Interview: Arthur Griffin, Berkley Group
Cork recruitment consultancy publishes guide to digital contracting for tech employers
14 Jul 2021 | 11.57 am
Beyond business closures, the Covid pandemic had its most obvious effect in the corporate world on working practices, accelerating remote working in virtually every sector.
Specialist recruitment consultancy Berkley negotiated the Covid landscape well over the last year and the Cork business has been adapting to the changes it has wrought.
“The initial impact of the first lockdown was a slowdown in permanent hiring, with many companies derisking by taking on contingent workers,” said Arthur Griffin, Managing Director of Berkley Group.
“However, the acceleration in adoption of digital technology and increase in projects from life science companies saw significant demand for skilled talent in particular from the second half of 2020. Overall, we saw a 23% year-on-year increase in turnover with growth across both divisions.”
Berkley’s core focus is on the business and technology and life science and engineering sectors. Most recently, the company started another vertical focus in supply chain and procurement.
Below, Arthur Griffin (pictured) details how his company and the Cork business community at large have been doing over the last year, as well as the challenges facing the recruitment sector.
Has the surge in remote working impacted the recruitment sector?
The ongoing Covid pandemic has accelerated the widespread adoption of remote working. To be fair, many organisations in the sectors we operate in would have offered some amount of flexibility around remote/hybrid work practices as a way of retaining and attracting staff.
However, the pandemic has forced companies to adopt more formal policies. Candidates today are evaluating one job opportunity over another based on remote/hybrid work policy, in addition to salary, career opportunity etc. Those companies that do not offer remote/hybrid working will ultimately lose out in the war for talent.
What sectors in Cork have been actively recruiting?
There has been no drop in demand across our business and technology and life science and engineering divisions. Growth areas are varied, with digital transformation, cybersecurity, product development, data and analytics all seeing increased demand for suitable talent.
On the life science and engineering side, we have seen consistent demand in R&D, QA, process, automation and validation.
The growth in the ‘project economy’ is seeing more organisations move towards a project-oriented approach with an increase in the hiring of independent contractors. This is also aligned with workers’ expectations around flexibility and work-life balance, with contractors enjoying greater autonomy, control, and flexibility in their careers.
There is an upward trend in blended workforces made up of permanent and contract staff and we are aligning our service lines to meet new demands in this space.
What are the biggest challenges facing the recruitment sector in the Cork/Munster region?
The lack of affordable accommodation is and will continue to be a significant challenge. However, we are at full employment across the technology and life sciences sectors, with many organisations unable to source key hires to support their growth strategies.
The promotion of STEM subjects at second level is a longer-term strategy, but in the short-term continued governmental investment in third level and support of Skillnet and Regional Skills Forum will build the skills capabilities that companies need.
Initiatives such as it@cork’s Skillnet CyberQuest programme, which is helping workers impacted by job losses as a result of the pandemic to re-skill and secure new roles in the cybersecurity sector, are to be applauded.
Has Berkley expanded in the last year? What’s in the pipeline for the company?
Thankfully, the company weathered the initial Covid crisis well and has seen significant growth last year and well into 2021. We invested in a market-leading AI talent pooling platform, which has accelerated our search and selection process. In addition, we also supported our clients further by providing an interviewing platform and advice on remote interviewing and on-boarding.
In response to our growing international reach, we have established a London office to support our UK client base and we have a further office in Berlin due to be operational later this year.
Many of our clients have requested support in sourcing supply chain and procurement specialists. In response to that demand, we have just set up a new supply chain and procurement division headed by a manager who has ten years’ experience in the industry.
It’s an exciting time for Berkley, and our success and growth over the last while is due in no small part to the hard work and support of the team.