Category Archives: Finding a Contract

Finance Staff Happy to Live Sheltered Lives

According to a recent interview in the FT with Sally Fisher, a Deloitte partner,  there is a real mis-match between the skills that companies need within finance and the types of skills that finance staff possess. Fisher, a specialist in organisation and change, believes that typically a third of the people in fiance are happy to lead sheltered lives focusing on the numbers.

In general senior finance executives tend to fit the common personality types of introverted thinker, reflective rather than social and often not strong on verbal communication. They have never been rewarded for innovation and the investment in skills development has focused largely on technical expertise. There is no shortage of people with the right technical skills but there is of people with the right behavioural skills. Finance staff need to be able to do the following:

  • Build relationships within finance and across departments and the hierarchy as well as break down silos. 
  • Inspire confidence in others by delivering messages with clarity and impact. Good verbal and written skills are a must.
  • To think strategically and avoid getting side tracked by low-priority issues and focus on the areas of of most importance.
  • Negotiate and influence and push forward the business strategy, diplomatically, once strategic alliances have been formed.
  • To acquire greater commercial acumen.

Sally Fisher would like organisations to focus on:

  • Knowing where the value is in each business area & where the greatest costs are
  • Create the skills to bulid trusted adviser relationships
  • Use the numbers to provide insight into the business strategy
  • Use communication skills to get the business to listen
  • Lead rather than just provide a service function

To read the complete article just click here.

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Jobs for Oil, Gas & Renewable Energy Consultants in Aberdeen

A report published in Novemeber 2012 by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revealed that Aberdeen was one of the three happiest locations in the UK – Oxford and Reading/Bracknell were the others – and the most contented in Scotland. With Aberdeen this is due in no small part to their second oil boom which continues to bring prosperity to the area.

In March 2013 the Scottish Government announced consent for the development of the European Offshore Wind Deployment Centre (EOWDC) in Aberdeen Bay.The development of offshore wind, wave and tidal energy offers a new field of technology and expertise. Only 2% of residents claim benefits. Jobs are plentiful in Aberdeen, highly specialised and well paid. The skills are transferable to most places in the world.

The prosperity brings its own problems it seeems. “Aberdeen is the only place in the country that is suffering from the challenges of success rather than the problems of failure.” Robert Collier, CEO of the Aberdeen and Grampian Chamber of Commerce told the Guardian. The biggest concerns are housing, transport and a shortage of skilled energy sector workers.

The housing shortage is so severe that it is difficult to get a bed in the youth hostel during the working week. If you do manage to book in to go walking in the hills you may find plenty of oil workers to chat to in the evenings. House prices in the area have more than doubled in the last ten years. For those who manage to ‘find their feet’ Robert Collier has encouraging news “We also have two very strong universities here, and 30% of all Scotland’s food and drink exports come from here. Our tourism and biosciences sectors are flourishing, and there is social and cultural hinterland beyond with great skiing facilities and the Cairngorms national park nearby.” There are plans to extend the airport runway, improve shipping channels and the entrance to Aberdeen Harbour, create an Olympic sized swimming pool and an iconic university library building.

In the opinion of PwC Aberdeen needs to recruit 120,000 skilled workers over the next 10 years or risk losing its place as one of the world’s great energy centres. Half the local industry’s workforce is aged over 45 and so just replacing them is a challenge in itself. With the planned and potential increases in activity there is the added challenge of recruiting these new people to work in Aberdeen while competing for staff with other oil and gas centres around the globe. There are and will be opportunities for consultants in oil, gas and renewable energy for the forseeable future.

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Record Investment Flowing into the North Sea as Oil Flows Again

Oil and gas engineering contractors and consultants roll up, roll up and hear the good news!

According to BBC News a consortium of oil companies is to invest more than £330m in an appraisal drilling programme which could lead to the development of a massive Atlantic field. The BP-led consortium said drilling had already started on the first of five wells planned over the next two years at Clair, West of Shetland.

Oonagh Werngren,Oil and Gas UK‘s Operations Director, said: “We welcome the news that BP is investing significantly in appraising the third phase of its Clair field to the west of Shetland. By applying the latest technologies, BP and its partners have, through continued investment over a number of years, unlocked significant potential that had previously lain unexplored. The Clair field is proving that there are exciting giant fields still to be explored on the UKCS.

There have been other announcements in recent months. The UK sanctioned $7bn investment by Statoil of Norway in the Mariner field which requires pioneering technology and will bring hundreds of high skilled, long-lasting oil and gas jobs across the country. It is expected to produce oil and gas for thirty years.

The change in North Sea Oil fortunes is partly due to the emergence of new technology that has helped extract reserves from sites that were in the past classed as uneconomic and are referred to as ‘awkward squad’ fields. According to a report in the FT, Malcolm Webb, Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK Group,the capital investment in new fields will rise from £11.4bn last year to £13bn in 2013. There is a five fold increase in production on the average for the past three years resulting in 470 million barrels of oil and gas coming on stream.

The other influence has been the government’s series of tax allowances promoting the exploitation of small and technically challenging fields. A strategy document entitled ‘UK Oil & Gas – Business and Government action. You can access a copy here.

This industry provides a source of employment for over 400 thousand people across the UK.

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Security Clearance

Many contracts (especially those for Government Organisations) require contractors to gain security clearance before starting an assignment. There are a 4 main types of security clearance; Basic Identity Checks (BC), Counter Terrorist Checks (CTC), Security Checks (SC) and Developed Vetting (DV). If you have never held any form of security clearance before you may find that you are limited to the type of contract you will be offered. This is due the fact that the majority of security checks (with the exception of Basic Identity Checks) take a long time to complete and require a sponsor i.e. the company that wishes to hire you. There is a chance that Security Clearance will not be granted at the end of a check meaning that the organisation has to go back to the start of the process to find a suitable contractor. If you have already held basic security clearance an organisation will feel more comfortable and confident with the process. Are you a highly skilled expat Contractor? Would you like to maximise your contract income and work towards a visa extension or visa transfer? If so Commonwealth Contractors can help! To discuss your situation with an experienced advisor call Commonwealth Contractors now on 0330 390 9021 or Submit your Details and we will get right back to you!

Basic Identity Checks (BC)

A Basic Identity Check provides fundamental assurance to an organisation that a contractor who has access to sensitive information is trustworthy. A BC is not a formal security clearance but is a pre-requisite for a CTC, SC or DV. The check only takes around 2 days to 2 weeks to complete in which time a contractor’s identity and employment history are investigated. Many professionals new to requiring security clearance often start off with an assignment that requires a Basic Identity Check.

Counter-Terrorist Checks (CTC)

Counter-Terrorist Checks are required where there may be a threat from terrorism to Government establishments. A CTC involves a Basic Identity Check and then a detailed check against Police and MI5 records. Unfortunately CTCs can take a long time, often 6 months. The good news however is that once approved a CTC is normally valid for up to 3 years.

Security Checks (SC)

Security Clearance is the most widely undertaken check to be carried out and is required where an individual may be given uncontrolled access to sensitive information. A Security Check involves a Basic Identity Check plus further checks against security and criminal records. An SC takes around 6 weeks to complete but once approved is normally only reviewed once every 10 years. There is significant demand for consultants with Security Clearance. By holding Security Clearance you may be able to agree higher contract rates as there is a smaller pool of workers from which to choose.

Developed Vetting (DV)

Developed Vetting is the highest level of security clearance and is required only for the most sensitive assignments. Contractors will not normally be required to undertake this form of check as workers requiring this level of clearance are normally recruited on a permanent basis.

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Financial Services Screening

Each year thousands of freelance professionals take contracts with large Financial Services Companies. If you’re planning on looking for a contract with a Financial Services Company you should be aware that you may have to go through the process of Financial Services Screening. (more…)

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2003 Conduct Regulations

The Conduct of Employment Agencies and Employment Business Regulations were created in 2003 to protect vulnerable poorly paid agency workers from unscrupulous employment firms. It is broadly accepted that the regulations were not intended to legislate against highly skilled workers. (more…)

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Professional References

It is well worth taking the time to get Professional References from a Client at the end of a project (ideally on company letterhead). This way you can show them to a potential Client or Recruiter as soon as you are asked. This could be the difference between picking up or not picking up a last minute assignment. (more…)

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IT Contract CVs

It is incredibly important to write a ‘high impact’ Contract CV. If you fail to do this you will waste a lot of time and receive few (if any) responses! (more…)

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IT Contract Recruitment Agencies

In most cases you will have to work via an IT Contract Recruitment Agency in order to secure a project in the UK. Many Agencies advertise roles on IT Job Websites however it is often worthwhile building personal relationships so that (with luck!) an Agent will think of you before posting a requirement. (more…)

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Finding a UK IT Contract

As a Contractor you need to learn how to find and secure IT Contracts in the UK. It can be a bit of an uphill battle at first however once you learn the basics you will find that the going becomes a lot easier! (more…)

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