Attracting, training and then retaining staff is a major headache in the channel not just because there are not enough people fitting the bill, but the competition for them is so intense.
Over the past month there have been several conversations that included a moment when the channel player confessed that one of the biggest challenges was on the personnel front.
There are various moves being made to try to alleviate the problem but for many in the channel they simply do not have the time to wait for the current crop of graduates to come through the education system.
As the economy continues to improve the impact of the skills crisis has become even clearer with many firms pointing to problems recruiting staff as one of the reasons why growth ambitions might not be met.
There have already been warnings that in some of the fast growing technologies like big data and unified comms as well as some of the essential areas like cyber security are not going to reach their full potential because thousands of extra skilled staff are needed.
For the channel there is an additional headache the they are looking to recruit sales staff at a time when most businesses are going through a transformation and moving into managed services. Being an MSP involves taking a different sales approach and the competition to attract hose that can deliver that sort of customer experience is intense.
Printer specialist Ricoh has come up with its own solution to the problem and launched a channel recruitment service for its partners.
The service works by supporting a placement over a year that delivers training, to start with in sales, and covers requirements from entry level up to helping find the next director.
The Ricoh programme is more than the usual apprenticeship scheme because of this option to provide support for potentially quite senior roles in a channel organisation and could attract a different sort of applicant.
To ensure that things work smoothly the year-long programme will be working to targets that can be monitored and the vendor will provide a partner sales recruitment manager to help deal with the new recruits.
No one will be given a target and then left to make it on their own with Ricoh also promising to provide one-to-one sessions, performance appraisals and development advice as the recruits go through the programme.
Samantha Bradbury, business generation manager within Ricoh UK’s Partner Channel, said that the firm had always taken training very seriously and understood the links between having a team of talented staff and business growth.
“We are therefore delighted to share our expertise and offer this new recruitment service, to help our partners attract the best talent for future growth,” she added.
The focus of the programme to start with is to concentrate on developing talented staff in the sales arena but there are plans to expand it to cover other IT roles in the future.
It will be interesting to chart the progress of the programme and get the views of partners about whether or not it has delivered the results they were hoping for.
Various channel firms have already established their own apprentice programmes to try and make sure they can bring in the next wave of talent. These tend to be focused on entry level, recently graduated students, and do not scale up to attract those that might come from a different industry and are considering changing careers.
Along with the efforts being made by the channel, the government work on apprenticeships and the other activities of industry bodies like CompTIA the Ricoh programme provides another angle for resellers to consider.