The short answer is: necessity. The longer answer though needs some explanation of the local job market on the Isle of Man.
The Isle of Man has a very, very low level of unemployment. Honestly look at the graphic below. We have a mere left arm of people actively looking for work!
The following figures are taken from the Isle of Man Governments website for June 2015:
- Registered unemployment remains at 768 persons at the end of June 2015. This is the lowest June figure in seven years.
- 70% of the unemployed are male (537) and 30% are female (231).
- 148 persons signed on to the unemployment register during the month; whilst 148 left the register.
- Unemployment has remained the same as the previous month (May 2015) and has fallen by 150 persons when compared to the same month, last year (June 2014).
- The unemployment rate remains at 1.7%; the rate is the proportion of economically active population registered as unemployed.
- 674 vacancies were notified to the Job Centre during the month and at the end of June 421 positions remained vacant; of these 70% were full-time positions (295) and 30% part-time positions (126).
Keeping the above figures in mind, add the fact that we are looking for a very in demand skill set and you can see why we as a smaller company struggle to compete for staff. There are some very big beasts stalking the Isle of Man employment market and swallowing talent at an alarming rate. This has become such an issue that HR departments in the banking / insurance industries (the big beasts of old) are now themselves struggling to fill positions with some vacancies remaining unfilled for as long as 18 months.
Recent government announcements about the relaxation of the Work Permit system should help a little and is certainly welcomed. Whilst the establishment of the planned Enterprise Development Fund
will, I believe, only compound the problem for at least the next few years.
We as an Island (like pretty much everywhere else) have little in the way of education tailored toward turning out developers. So how do we solve the shortfall?
We looked at outsourcing / off shoring. We've dipped our toe into these waters previously and had good results for certain types of projects. However we've found that our customers on the whole value the personal nature of our services and the advice we can offer. Most of our projects require high levels of access to systems and more importantly, engagement with people at throughout the organisation to help refine a solution tailored towards everyone's needs. My verdict on this is that outsourcing has its place but only for some types of projects.
So the struggle to compete for local talent, our lessons on only outsourcing in certain circumstances and need to grow lead us to think about training as the only logical solution. Find bright people, put them through psychometric testing, interview them and see what we can help them do.
This is the journey were embarking on.
The next post will focus on what we are hoping achieve going forward. A sharing of the vision if you will.