Digital talent and the public sector


Many IT and new media workers are interested in working for the public sector, but they believe government has to change attitudes to make the most of their skills, according to a new survey.

Window of Opportunity: Digital Talent and the Public Sector was recently released by new media employment agency Prospect. Among its findings are that 76% of respondents – taken from people on Prospect's database - said they would consider working with their specific skills in the public sector. Nearly two thirds - 64% - of respondents said that setting up online services for local government would provide them with meaningful work.

These figures are tempered by those showing that 73% believe the government is not doing enough to create a digital nation and that it should speak more with professionals in the field.

The survey was sent out to 3,000 people on the company's database and over 10% had responded.

"Professionals in the IT and new media by and large don't believe government understands how to approach this thing or is talking to them in a meaningful way," said James Plummer, Managing Director of Prospect. "The people best qualified to deliver the promise are not being spoken to."

He acknowledged that central and local government has been working with IT and new media suppliers, but said the focus has nearly always been on large companies. Smaller and medium sized companies provide much of the talent and ideas in the sector but these are usually neglected, he claimed.

"It takes a huge amount to get people in the public sector to decide on anything," he said. "It's well beyond the resources of the small companies to deal with this."

This ties in with one of the report's findings, that 77% of respondents believe the public sector is too bureaucratic and that it stifles initiative and efficiency.

The willingness to consider public sector work may have more to do with default than design. With the dotcom crash and the stark plight of Britain's hi-tech industry today, many skilled professionals are only too happy to secure a job.

Plummer said that hiring policies need to be reassessed, as in many areas of government these are cumbersome and time consuming. He also warned that workers with the relevant skills do not take a long term view of their employment, and that the public sector needs to deal with it on these terms.

"Nobody in the internet economy works for anybody for more than 18 months or two years," he said.

Among the reports other findings was that 92% of respondents believe there is a cultural difference between working in the private and public sectors, in terms of working practices, attitudes to work, rules and regulations. 57% disagree the notion that the public sector is a vibrant and creative field in which to work, and 61% said it is not receptive to new technology.

For further details, contact:
James Plummer or Giles Trendle at Prospect MSL
Tel +44 (0)20 7439 1919    Email: [email protected]