How will the 2020 recession affect software engineering

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That September, ‘back to school’ feeling, is a little bit different this year. Despite the UK Government’s insistence that businesses are safe to return to their usual workplaces, along with the Prime Minister’s encouragement to do so, organisations have been hesitant. Previously packed city centres are missing their usual patrons, and the City of London is whisper-quiet. Just 34 per cent of Brits have returned to their usual workplaces.

Despite concerns over the loss of trading from commuters, who would typically pay out for travel, lunch, and after work drinks consumer spending is on the rise. This accounts for two thirds of the UK’s GDP, so it is an important figure to track. Official data lags behind, but a strong third quarter has been predicted for this year, helped out by Government economic support measures, good weather and – so far – no resurgence of the virus.

So, with businesses showing tentative confidence in economic recovery, how will this affect programming and software development?

A recession like no other

First off, it’s important to remember that this is not like other recessions. Most recessions are caused by a combination of factors, such as high interest rates, increasing inflation, reduced real wages and wavering consumer confidence. Simply speaking, people spend less because they have less to spend. This time around, though some people have had to tighten their belts due to redundancy or fewer working hours, spending actually slowed because the opportunities to spend were reduced.

This could mean that we have an incredibly fast economic recovery. In fact, in the US, the V-shape recovery has been so swift that some experts predict that we will not look back upon this period as one of recession at all.

However, the UK and Europe have an additional concern on the horizon: Brexit. Predictions sway wildly on the impact of Brexit upon the UK economy, with some assured we will be stronger than ever, and others convinced we are heading for disaster. The truth likely to be somewhere in the middle, and until it happens, we cannot know for sure. It’s worth considering, however, that Brexit may impact the confidence of consumers and investors, therefore affecting the speed and certainty of recovery.

UK tech sector will lead the way

Pre-covid, the tech sector was growing six times faster than the rest of the economy, employing three million people in the UK. In times of recession, industries related to basic needs, such as healthcare and food, tend to fare better than others. Technology may not yet be held in the same regard, but we are undeniably edging closer.

In fact, much of our ability to manage the impact of the coronavirus outbreak can be put down to technology. Remote working, track and trace, online shopping, as examples, are all enabled by advancements in tech and, if current trends continue, greater technology will be needed in these areas.

We’re already seeing a surge in demand from businesses wanting to protect themselves against another national lockdown, improving their infrastructure for remote working and building websites able to withstand higher volumes of traffic.

Tech also benefits from being an industry which can easily ask its employees to work from home and is seen as a relatively safe bet by investors. All of this means that the technology sector is likely to recover more quickly compared to other industries.

More applications do not equal more talent

One big mistake organisations make when trying to hire in a recession is thinking they can attract candidates with lower offers. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The number of available candidates does not change the number of qualified candidates in the market. In actual fact, recruiting can become more difficult when there are more applicants, because the higher volume makes it harder to spot the perfect candidate.

The reality is that the top 10 per cent of talent is still the top 10 per cent. There’s no doubt that skilled people lose their jobs when a recession hits, but these individuals will be snapped up quickly. They know their worth, and they will gravitate towards the businesses offering them the best overall offer. If you are lucky enough to secure someone talented at below market-rate, chances are you won’t hold on to them for long.

The team at develop know how to build the perfect employee value proposition for your potential candidates. Our consultants understand what candidates are looking for, and how to present your business as an attractive opportunity.

In times of financial uncertainty, businesses are often tempted to run a skeleton team, but organisations must not allow a weak link to grow. Now is the time to assess your strengths and weaknesses and determine how you will plug any gaps. develop can help you to build a hiring strategy, identifying the perfect person to add value to your team.

No matter how quickly the economy recovers, programmers and software engineers will be vital to its growth. develop is scaling software engineering teams that shape our world. For more information get in touch with develop today on 0207 733 0430



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