As the UK's ecommerce skills crisis continues to bite, one company has resorted to offering cash rewards to people who nominate the right candidate.
Entranet, an ecommerce consultancy based in the Thames Valley area, is offering a £3000 reward to anyone who can find a successful candidate for any of the 100-plus vacancies in the fast-expanding company.
Researcher IDC predicts a 20 per cent shortfall in skilled IT professionals in Europe by 2002 - up from five per cent in 1998. UK government moves to counter the trend include a campaign to attract workers who have moved abroad and relaxing immigration rules.
Entranet said its plan to offer cash payments provides a good incentive for attracting workers from the UK and overseas.
Nick Spooner, chief executive of Entranet, said: "Too much emphasis has been placed on attracting staff only through share options. While they are important, that's not the way Europe is going to compete with the Americans. People and training - that's the only answer."
Dharmesh Mistry, Entranet's chief technologist, said the company does offer share options, but added: "Some 80 per cent of dot com companies won't be here in a few years. What's the point of having options in a company that doesn't exist?"
Entranet said payments would cost it about the same as going through a recruitment agency.
The company is offering the bounty to successful headhunters to find personnel with skills in design, IT, marketing, delivery management and strategy.
Recruits will polish their skills in a so-called e-Boot Camp, which received a £5m cash injection. The reward will be paid to the headhunter in several stages as recruits progress through training, with the final amount payable once they have completed a three-month probation.
Max Thowless-Reeves, an analyst at Richard Holway, said: "I have never heard of anything like this before. Internal bounties for staff are more usual. This is weird."
He said the offer is "symptomatic of the industry's difficulty to recruit the right people with the right skills", but said Entranet is probably finding it "doubly difficult because it has not floated".
"It is not a plc so it is much harder to offer share options which have no visibility."
Entranet is planning an initial public offering this year. The company is looking to recruit some 600 staff over the next year as it expands throughout Europe.
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