Local authorities are competing well with the private sector in attracting and retaining high-calibre IT professionals, according to a survey by local authority IT managers group Socitm.
The study, conducted by research firm Computer Economics, showed an average salary increase of 4.8% in local authorities, compared with an average 3.5% in the private sector.
However, public sector pay still lags behind the private sector. For lower-level IT jobs, public sector pay is 90% of that in the private sector. At director level, public sector pay is about 75% of that for equivalent private sector roles.
Despite the pay gap, local authorities are doing better than private companies in terms of overall recruitment, the survey found.
The proportion of local authorities experiencing staff retention problems rose from 17% in 2004 to 23.5% this year, and 31% experienced recruitment difficulties, compared to 27% last year.
However, the private sector is experiencing much greater recruitment difficulties, with 58% citing problems this year – more than double the figure for 2003, the report found.
The Socitm survey also found that fringe benefits and more flexible ways of working help local authorities to compete with a private sector that offers higher pay.
The survey revealed 93% of public sector bodies offer flexible working hours and 66% allow selected staff to work from home, compared to 27% in 2004.
In addition, 84% of local authorities offer job sharing, and 71% have a structured training and development plan for all staff.