Gershon changes impact public sector skills: Recruiters

IT workers are shifting toward roles in the private sector due to "involved and complicated" public sector recruitment processes

The initial success of the Gershon Review recommendations may be short-lived, according to firm Greythorn, as IT workers move away from public service agencies and toward the private sector, potentially jeopardising government ICT projects in 2011.

A recent review of Gershon changes by Dr Ian Reinecke noted a “shortage of ICT professionals has been consistently reported as the most pressing issue agencies face," with few agencies developing a retention plan.

It also noted that major projects including the NBN, increased use of Web 2.0 and the continued implementation of the ICT Reform Program were likely to increase the demand for skilled staff.

Greythorn’s managing director, Richard Fischer, said the public sector's continued loss of IT professionals to the private sector came as a result of “sluggish” recruitment and promotion processes, and rebounding corporate salaries. As a result, he said government ICT projects scheduled for next year could be jeopardised by a lack of skilled staff.

“Greythorn consultants have identified continued growth in the volume of calls from IT professionals working in the public sector specifically requesting information on private sector roles,” Fischer said in a statement.

“The shift in sentiment among IT professionals is definitely not an overnight phenomenon. We’ve been noticing an increased appetite for private sector opportunities for some time.”

Fischer also claims the government would likely face issues in the future regarding servicing the needs of Government departments if it didn't address this issue.

“The risks associated with the Federal Government’s inability to attract and retain IT talent are immense,” he said. “Major projects such as the NBN would be jeopardised, but more importantly everyday upkeep of the Government’s IT infrastructure would be undermined, putting at risk the security of information held by all Government agencies.”

“The bottom line is if the public sector does not quickly move to simplify the recruitment process for permanent ICT staff and find an appropriate balance between permanent and contract staff it will be adversely affected by the pending skills shortages.”

Follow Chloe Herrick on Twitter: @chloe_CW

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