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2021 Industry Update
Mid-Year Industry Update Highlights
From Recovery to Resurgence
In January 2021, we took a moment to reflect on the challenges and successes of 2020. As we pass the halfway mark for the year, we wanted to check in again with a 2021 mid-year update. It’s honestly hard to believe how much has changed in just six months!
The first half of 2021 was marked by a rapid shift from the shutdown to opening up. “It’s not just a recovery, it’s a resurgence,” according to Paul Schwartz, president of Copier Careers. “Employers who are still in shutdown mode need to wake up to this new reality. We’ve never seen a shift from layoffs to hiring happen so quickly — it’s been a huge whiplash.”
Pressure to Evolve and Grow
2020 accelerated what the Copier Channel has always done best: adapt. And that moment was carried into 2021. “Companies realized that to survive they needed to evolve by building up their Managed Services Division,” said Jessica Crowley, senior vice president of Copier Careers, noting that in at least one case, a dealer’s Managed IT Division grew 40% last year. “Obviously, the hardware side has decreased, and this company was able to offer clients Managed Services for remote work. Along with that came Cybersecurity.”
Competitive Labor Market Challenges
This increased demand for candidates highlights the defining challenge of 2021: the candidate shortage. While this shortage is being felt across all industries, the Copier Channel was already feeling the squeeze before the pandemic. And the nationwide pressure is increasing the poaching rate from other industries – especially medical and dedicated IT companies.
“There’s a shrinking labor force now,” Schwartz said. “This scarcity is forcing businesses to streamline their hiring process to better attract and win over candidates.” The changes aren’t small, either, Crowley said. They involve structural changes in how companies recruit, interview and hire candidates. “You have to change how you’re interviewing,” she said. “You have to change how long the process lasts. You have to keep the candidates engaged and interested in the opportunity before they’re gone.”
“Companies are ramping up their operations, and if they’re not looking for new employees now, it’s going to seriously hinder them. Even just to maintain their workforce, employers need to defend against tempting offers being made to their employees. And they need to offer competitive incentives themselves, if they want to grow. Right now, the best defense is a good offense.”
Building Up New Candidates
For Schwartz, the solution is clear. “Without a new source of candidates, this job market is only going to get tougher. Clients tell me that it’s time they start developing apprenticeship programs, where they hire people without direct experience but a technical background and get them trained and certified.”
The first step is to appeal to a younger generation of potential hires and attract them to an IT-based industry with plenty of opportunity for them to learn, advance and prosper. At the same time, building a bench with experienced pros from within will also give companies a competitive edge. “You’ve got to invest in your people, because it is investing in your company,” Schwartz said. “It’s investing in your future.”
These challenges in our industry update offer leaders a choice: Commit to increasing the candidate pool with training and apprenticeship programs or continue casting into a shrinking pool of candidates and coming up empty.
Imagine how much the industry could grow if it were not always bogged down in candidate searches and hiring! As the industry found ways to address changing needs during the pandemic, it must continue to innovate, adapt and accelerate to get a firm foothold in the post-pandemic world. That means filling open jobs and moving forward together.