Tech employers are using downturn to retrain staff

26 Nov 2008

Technology companies in Ireland are using the current economic downturn as an opportunity to redeploy and retrain staff in preparation for better times ahead, a survey has found.

The survey by SHL Ireland found that 59pc felt redefining how staff will need to operate in this period of economic change was of ‘critical importance’ to their HR strategy for 2009, with almost half (47.6pc) citing the redeployment of existing staff between other offices, divisions or roles as important strategies to adopt in light of the current economic climate.

Over two thirds (67.9pc) said succession planning would be key in identifying who within their organisation would be retrained in 2009, with team development initiatives post restructuring or redeployment a priority for almost half (48.1pc) of organisations.

“The pace of growth experienced by organisations in recent years has, in many cases, not afforded senior management the opportunity to ensure that they have optimal human resources structures in place,” said Joe Ungemah, managing consultant at SHL Ireland.

“Our research has found that many companies are now, for first time in a number of years, using the current lull in business activity as an opportunity to stand back to refocus, regroup and retrain so they can be in a position to take advantage when economic growth returns.”

When asked about the extent to which the economic downturn had affected budgets for recruitment, staff training and development, all firms reported a degree of belt tightening, with over half (57.9pc) reporting cut backs of 25pc or less. Of the organisations surveyed, 16.2pc reported an immediate need for voluntary or forced redundancy in the current climate.

The findings indicate that Irish businesses are in the process of regrouping, with efforts and budgets refocused on staff training and development in anticipation of an upturn.

This is borne out by companies’ attitudes towards staff training and development initiatives, with over half (52.4pc) committed to retaining the number of training courses on offer for staff, while only 13.1pc considering cutting training budgets as a matter of urgency.

The survey findings may provide some comfort to those seeking to avail of graduate recruitment opportunities, with 44.7pc of organisations surveyed revealing they have no immediate plans to reduce the intake on their graduate/management development programmes, while a further 12.6pc responded that they were only ‘considering’ such a move.

By John Kennedy

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years