Government IT is profession most reliant on external recruits

Senior civil servants working in IT are more likely to be recruited from the private sector than any other profession across government

Senior civil servants working in IT are more likely to be recruited from the private sector than any other profession across government.

External recruits working in government IT receive a median salary of £84,970, an average of £10,000 more than their internally-recruited counterparts.

Some 53% of the total 100 senior civil servants in government IT are recruited externally, according to a report from the National Audit Office entitled Building capability in the Senior Civil Service to meet today’s challenges. The average percentage of external recruits across all other professions is 22%.

The IT profession represents just under 3% of the senior civil service, with almost half (1,549) of senior civil servants work in either policy development or operational delivery, according to the data from April 2012.

The government’s Capabilities Plan published in April said the senior civil service will continue to buy in external skills to strengthen digital, commercial and project management capabilities, with the Government Digital Service (GDS) creating a recruitment hub to fill digital roles across government and support more coordinated digital recruitment.  

The Cabinet Office recently announced a shake-up in the leadership structure of IT in government, axing the role of government CIO and cross-government IT boards and appointing digital leaders to drive technology change across Whitehall.

Permanent secretaries, working with the heads of professions, should work with service managers and digital leaders, to ensure they have a level of influence on strategic decision-making commensurate with their expertise, said the report.

However, the report cites evidence that promotion to the senior civil service is becoming too financially unattractive and it is putting off talented people. Owing to the pay freeze, and changes to pensions and benefits, the total reward for senior civil servants has been reduced by around 17% in real terms over four years. 

Speaking to Computer Weekly last year, IT director at the NAO Sally Howes, said building capability was key to the government achieving its digital transformation ambitions.

"If a department is moving from outsourcing to multi-sourcing, it does push back into that department the need for in-house areas of expertise that have been supplied by third parties. 

"And some of this expertise you can’t pick up overnight, so I think finding the right way to fill that gap is important," she said.


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