digital talent
© Volodymyr Tverdokhlib |

David Rai, Sparta Global, discusses the challenges that government organisations face in recruiting and retaining digital talent

In the UK there are at least 19 government digital transformation programmes currently underway –  costing almost £38 billion. Building digital capability in the government has been a focus for a number of years – with plans to transform the relationship between the public and government with automated services. While government organisations need to continue to invest in people to empower technology to work efficiently, they are facing significant challenges around: digital talent attraction and retention; introducing new IT skills to a legacy workforce and contending with legislative changes.

Driving digital in a legacy workforce

Employment survey data indicates groups of public sector workers are older than the workforce as a whole. In 2012, the median age for all workers employed nationwide was 42.3 years. The pace of change in technology is exceptionally quick and the public sector’s legacy workforce could greatly benefit from the knowledge of new digital techniques and processes from fresh tech talent.

However, the real challenge for organisations is attracting and retaining the cutting-edge and skilled staff to upskill those around them and manage and maintain new digital offerings. Without a trusted team of developers to continuously build and test frameworks for new digital implementations, government departments will deliver inefficient services.

Tech for all: keeping hold of talent

By 2020 there will be an estimated one million unfilled jobs in the IT sector – a result of today’s fast-moving technology industry and slow-moving tech talent pipeline. With Brexit also looming and a dark cloud hanging over access to tech talent outside of the UK, competition for digitally minded candidates is fierce, and organisations of all shapes and sizes are having to think of innovative ways of attracting and retaining talent. Traditionally, public sector organisations have lower rates of pay than private sector companies and must, therefore, place greater emphasis on finding candidates who fit culturally and share the same vision and values.

According to a research study released by the Institute for Public Relations (IPR), 47% of millennials consider diversity and inclusion of a workplace in their job search. Having grown up in diverse communities, the new-wave of digital professionals recognise, appreciate, and encourage the same in the workplace. Despite this, just 8.5% of senior leaders in technology are from a minority background, according to a report from agency Inclusive Boards.

UK government departments and agencies need to find and entice more digital talent, but also invest in a talent pipeline reflective of the UK today – populated by people from different walks of life, with different ideas, strengths and weaknesses.

A new talent resource

Traditional recruitment channels are over-loaded with demand for skilled digital professionals and competition from private companies can often outprice public sector organisations in the bid for talent. However, there are alternative ways to fill key roles and improve diversity and skillset in legacy IT teams.

Specialist training academies upskill young graduates through specific job-related training and prepare them to hit the ground running in a digital role. Bootcamp-style courses offer intensive training in up-to-date digital techniques and processes that can help graduates from different course backgrounds to kickstart a career in tech.

A unique business model that straddles both education and employment, academies can bring improvements to the vocational training of digital talent and pool resources to give the public sector access to a skilled and diverse future workforce.


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