Local government IT departments must plan for digital skills shortage

IT managers in local government face a shortage in digital skills as workers demand the ability to use consumer IT in the workplace, says Socitm

IT managers in local government face a shortage in digital skills as workers demand the ability to use consumer IT in the workplace, according to the Society of IT Managers (Socitm).

In its latest IT Trends report, looking at the local authority sector which spends over £3bn a year on IT and employs 27,100 people, Socitm revealed that cost-cutting still heavily influences IT plans.

But IT trends that are seeing services modernised will require people with digital skills and experience to implement. 

For example, over 40% of respondents expect their organisations to increase their use of the social networking channel. Meanwhile, consumer technologies are being used in the workplace. 

“The use of smartphones, tablets and BYOD have come from nowhere in the survey last year, to beat cloud computing, broadband and PSN and environmental and sustainability issues in 2012,” the report stated.

The drivers of this trend are pressure from users and the introduction of bring your own device (BYOD) schemes to reduce costs, said Socitm.

Unless the right skills are available, there is a danger this opportunity will not be exploited by IT managers, according to the report.

“By remaining passive against a background of profound change in the operating environment, ICT managers risk being excluded from key decisions affecting themselves and colleagues, especially those about service redesign and ICT provisioning to support revised, or wholly new, business processes,” it read.

Chris Head, author of the report, said it is surprising that ICT managers still see only a minor role for themselves in service modernisation. 

He said in the report that while respected for technical competence and advice, ICT managers “lack credibility within their organisations in advocating and driving business process change outside their own departments”. 

Head advised ICT managers to develop the personal power exerted by politically astute individuals who can communicate effectively.

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