Growing reliance on IT contractors in the Public Sector

02/07/14

IT roles within the UK public sector are currently experiencing a surge in growth. According to a recent report by Procorre[1] 11% of all new IT consultancy roles in the UK are now within the public sector. This compares to only 5% of new IT roles being attributed to the public sector in 2012 and represents an increased demand for IT talent. This elevated requirement for IT consultants in the public sector has been stimulated by the government’s ‘digital by default’ strategy for delivering public services. This requires greater investment in IT in the short term in order to achieve longer term savings through the effective use of technology.

IT talent shortage

According to a survey by open source and cloud service provider Reconnix[2], 88% of hiring managers feel that there are insufficient numbers of IT candidates in the marketplace with the relevant skills to fill the roles required. This shortage of talent presents an excellent opportunity for IT contractors and freelancers to take advantage of. The study cites that there is a particular shortage of skills in the areas of web application development, internet & networking and data analytics. However, even though this shortage exists the survey suggests that students and graduates continue to apply for traditional IT roles in server and desktop support and are not pursuing training and development in these specialist areas. Despite this apparent skills mismatch, 82% of recent IT and technology graduates remain optimistic about their career prospects. Pat Nice, chief executive officer at Reconnix, said: “Optimism from current students and graduates is encouraging to see following years of uncertainty, but the reality is that many are not at the level that employers need them to be.” Until greater emphasis is placed upon encouraging young people to train in these cutting-edge skills we will continue to rely on a workforce of skilled contractors who are able to optimise upon this skills gap. Contractors are in an ideal position to step in and be the source of talent that businesses are in desperate need of, providing a fast solution to the problem. The Parasol Contractor Barometer Report[3] backs up this assertion as 77% of IT contractors surveyed felt well placed to bridge the skills gap in their field.

Positive outlook for contractors

This IT talent shortage situation in the UK is leading to greater confidence among the IT contractor workforce as they realise the strength of their position and demand for their skills. According to a 2014 Parasol survey[4], 92% of contractors in the IT and technology sector feel more confident about their career prospects than in 2013 and 82% plan to continue to contract for the long-term. This demonstrates that the feeling within the marketplace is that the desire for contractors to fill the skills gap is unlikely to end soon.

The role of recruitment agencies

Filling highly skilled and technical IT roles in the public sector requires extensive market knowledge, a broad understanding of the key technologies used and a wide network of high calibre candidates. Hiring managers are increasingly reliant upon recruitment agencies to put them into contact with the candidates that they require, whether they are looking for permanent employees or contractors. There is increasing time pressure to locate the talent required in the current marketplace as the demand for cost-saving in the public sector becomes more and more urgent. Technology in the public sector is key to these cost-cutting exercises as increasing the efficiency of our public services through the introduction of technology can significantly reduce overall spend. Therefore the time-saving offered by recruitment agencies that will project manage the whole process and offer a ready-made network of appropriate and skilled candidates is increasingly attractive. Technology is constantly evolving and identifying technical professionals with sector experience becomes a fundamental business issue that requires recruitment expertise.

Notes 1. Procorre – http://wind.energy-business-review.com/suppliers/procorre-ebr/news/it-public-sector-jobs-recover-as-they-now-account-for-11-of-all-it-consultancy-roles-ebr-24577

2. Reconnix – http://www.parasolgroup.co.uk/for-contractors/contractors-set-benefit-talent-drought/

3.Barometer Report – http://www.parasolgroup.co.uk/for-contractors/infographic-working-contractor-2014/

4.Parasol Survey – http://www.parasolgroup.co.uk/for-contractors/infographic-working-contractor-2014/