skills shortage in the privacy space?

By Phil Brining

I’ve been reading about skills shortages in the news: HGV drivers, chefs, fruit pickers… and now that we have come to advertise several new posts of our own due to the growth of Data Protection People, the reality of the situation has hit home. 

We’re currently seeking to recruit a manager for our SAR bureau, someone to get hold of our training activities and take them forwards as a business within the business, and another couple of people to join our support desk and begin their development with us.  But thus far we have only had a few applicants. 

Maybe we’re advertising in the wrong places, or maybe we’re not grabbing the attention of job seekers in amongst the morass of opportunities available? 

It also seems that there has been a degree of wage inflation in the industry.  The posts that are currently being advertised appear to be paying more than the market rate a year or two ago.  Perhaps, and I hope this is the case, data protection and privacy matters are being taken more seriously now by more organisations than was the case 24 months ago and that has created more jobs which have been filled by the limited pool of qualified and experienced people leaving unfilled vacancies.

Our business is a knowledge-based business; we sell time and expertise so we are reliant upon recruiting people either with that knowledge or with the capability and capacity to develop the knowledge and crucially, the skills to use it to good effect. 

If we are lucky, the law grads and school-leavers we recruit have had a cursory discussion about privacy and data protection law in their studies, so our first job is to build on and enhance that awareness.  In reality though, they often don’t know much about it.  We’ve never found this to be a show stopper in the past because after all, data protection law and practice might be complex but it’s not rocket science.  It’s a human construct and as humans, we are equipped to decode it and apply it. 

Therefore we are perfectly happy recruiting people without experience of working with the law – it just takes a little longer in basic training, but our approach to imparting that knowledge has worked incredibly well for us in the past. 

The key is finding people with the interest and propensity to relish working in the privacy law field.

And we are very lucky at DPP in that we have a very diverse portfolio of services and clients meaning that we can provide our team with the kinds of experiences they probably won’t get elsewhere.  The drawback is that there is a real danger that our new recruits develop at a rapid pace and outgrow the experience we can offer.  But I’m cool with that.  I am a firm believer that employment is a two-way street.  Our responsibility is to help folks develop skills to see them progress in life whether with us or somewhere else: their responsibility is to embrace the opportunities and flourish on both a professional and personal level. 

Sadly, at some point, they may wish to or need to leave in order to further develop.  And that’s ok, because during the time people are with us they will have made a great economic contribution to the business as well as to themselves.

Well, I’d better get back to Indeed, LinkedIn, job boards and university recruitment officers… these vacancies won’t fill themselves!

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