What’s the real impact of COVID-19 on talent and recruitment in the deep tech sector?

Posted 2/7/2020 by Benet Hanley

We see many industries making redundancies and many more likely to follow. With many people working from home for the foreseeable future and furlough continuing until October, we are undoubtedly living in unprecedented times. 

What impact has this had on the Deep Tech Industry?

Of course we have seen a slowdown in hiring in the deep tech sector as a result of COVID-19 but not as much as many might assume. The semiconductor design cycle is a long process and hiring a top engineer can take a considerable amount of time.

Experienced engineers typically have 3 month notice periods so anyone who was identified and offered a position may not start until we are further out of the lockdown situation. Project cycles can last 18 months to 2 years so building the right teams is an ongoing process that never stops. So it could be argued that this 4 month shutdown is a small blip in real terms.  

In addition to this unlike other industries such as retail, tourism and aviation, the deep tech sector will continue to thrive as our need and dependence on technology grows. 

Scarce Talent 

However, it isn’t all good news for the deep tech sector. One of the impacts of COVID-19 that we are already experiencing is that our comparatively cautious talent pool is even more cautious and less likely to move jobs. With the uncertainty we are all living with and Brexit looming on the horizon, engineers will want to stick with their relatively safe job. Consequently, winning the talent you need on your team and project has become even harder to achieve in what is a comparatively competitive marketplace with scarce talent. Start-ups or companies with less than bullet proof reputations will find talent attraction even harder than some of their competitors. 

There is usually no secret as to where the talent is. The trick is can you entice them to move? We have seen a number of companies buck the media reported downwards trend and look to recruit through this period partly because their funding cycles and investment has been agreed and or they have had confirmation from their clients that they are being held to agreed delivery dates.

 

The Talent Gap

One of the potential impacts of COVID-19 may be on graduates. With many universities still to announce if they will be doing in person teaching, many students are still deciding on their next step.. We could therefore have a similar talent gap in future years as we did in 2012 when we had clients who wanted to recruit a graduate with 3 years worth of experience. However, they didn’t exist because nobody had been hiring graduates in 2008/2009 following the financial crisis.

We could very well have the same challenge in the next two to three years where we have a talent gap which means you have to compete even harder to win that talent. 

Competing for Talent

Over recent years we have seen more companies trying to hire directly. However, this will be increasingly challenging in a marketplace where to hire directly you have to identify who and where that talent is and then entice to join your project. The question is why should they move if they are in a strong position in a good company with protected employment and a redundancy package?

If there is going to be a recession why would you move as in doing so it could be argued that you are easier to get rid of (within the first 2 years).

Therefore one of the primary and likely consequences of COVID-19 on the deep tech industry is the competition for talent where unlike almost any other industry, the power is in candidate’s hands.

And we still have Brexit to come…

If you are considering recruiting for your team in the next 6 - 12 months get in touch and tell me what position you might be recruiting for. 

Enigma People Solutions is an award-winning technology recruitment consultancy. We find technical leaders for the deep tech and emerging and enabling technology industries. Visit our job search page for the latest vacancies in electronics, photonics, semiconductor industries. You can get in touch with us hello@enigmapeople.com - 0131 510 8150

 

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