Public sector faces rising IT contractor rates

Public sector employers are experiencing shortages of IT contractors with the security clearance needed to work on sensitive networking projects, recruitment experts have warned.

Demand for IT contractors with security clearance has increased significantly over the past year, as departments roll out technology initiatives to join up different parts of government.

The trend is creating shortages, which are delaying projects and pushing up contract rates, said Byran Corke, head of public sector IT recruitment at Hudson.

“There is a huge shortage of people with security clearance in the public sector, especially in the project support arena,” he said. “There is a shortage of security-cleared candidates with all the skills, but we are seeing a bigger demand and a declining pool.”

The public sector is increasingly having to compete with the private sector, particularly financial services companies, which have begun recruiting high-level IT people in larger numbers, according to Darren Nichols, public sector director at Rethink Recruitment.

“Demand has gone up at least 20% in the past year,” he said.

Daily rates for skilled security-cleared IT contractors have increased from £600 to £750 or more, over the past 12 months, Nichols added.

Philip Virgo, strategic adviser to the Institute for the Management of Information Systems, said the available talent pool is shrinking fast.

“The only way public sector employers can find staff is to hire people who are already working in the public sector, find people who have just left, or are working for firms with security clearance anyway.”

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