Good IT staff hard to find – and Cisco skills harder still

By Stuart Sumner
04 Dec 2013 View Comments
Men shaking hands

It's not easy to find IT staff with the right skill-set, and it's even harder to find people with good Cisco skills.

That's according to Steve Capper, director of IT at construction firm Skanska, as he told Computing recently.

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"We've been very fortunate, but it's not easy to find people. It's hard to recruit when you're at the top of the M25 - we're not in central London," said Capper. "It's hard to get good quality people to come and work with you, but I think we've done quite well," he added.

There are certain skills that Capper finds even harder to find, and the demand means that staff with the right experience can command six-figure salaries.

"It's hard to find people with good Cisco skills at an affordable price. As soon as you mention the phrase CCIE [Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert], you've got people wanting in excess of £100,000, that's pretty typical," said Capper. "Getting good experience around things like Cisco, NetApp, and UCS and also Citrix [can be very expensive]."

He also explained that sometimes good staff can suddenly underperform with little warning, adding an extra layer of complexity to recruitment.

"In my last job there was a girl who worked for us on a temporary contract for 12 months and she was fantastic, she set the world alight. We gave her permanent job and she dropped off a cliff and started taking drugs. You've got no idea how people will react or change."

Capper criticised recruitment firms for pushing inappropriate people towards IT positions, with none of the skills or experience needed for technical roles.

"A lot of people download their CVs from the internet, to have all the buzzwords. So now we do a simple technical test. Lots of people rock up after coming from a recruitment company, and they can't answer any of our questions, and the test isn't rocket science. The agencies help them put together a CV that looks good and gets them in the door because they want their commission as fast as possible.

"What they're doing is driving a wedge between us and them. You start to take with pinch of salt what you read [on candidates' CVs]."

Finally, Capper said that IT staff don't always look to the construction industry as a potential source of employment, as they believe that they won't be working at the cutting edge.

"For us it's hard to get people to come and work in construction company. Staff assume that because it's not a bank or a law firm we're behind the times, but actually I don't think we are."

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