Public sector lacks the skills for long-term digital transformation

The public sector is struggling to attract the talent to drive forward long-term digital transformation, according to new research.

In an EMC study of IT pros, nearly half (47%) of public sector workers said their organisation would benefit from having the vision to plot long-term digital plans, a skill the sector is considerably lacking.

This is despite four in five (81%) public sector workers believing they have the skills in their organisation to support the digital transformation of public services.

The nature of the UK’s current political landscape and annual budget cycle makes it critical for public sector organisations to plan ahead to coincide with citizen needs and government demands. These challenges have the potential to scupper the government’s digital agenda.

The study found that UK public sector organisations are struggling to innovate, with only 16% of public sector organisations significantly focusing on innovation.

With 87% of survey respondents agreeing that the growth and success of their organisation is reliant on technology, public sector organisations that don’t provide fulfilling careers to their IT teams risk falling behind as central budgets continue to be reduced.

>See also: Digital transformation in 2016: how far have we come, and how far have we left to go?

If the industry does not take on board the importance of IT’s role, the public sector risks losing IT talent, with a worrying two thirds (66%) of respondents having considered applying or have applied for another in the past 12 months.

This is, however, lower than the private sector average (72%), suggesting public sector IT workers are at least somewhat more settled than their counterparts in the private sector.

The main reasons stated by public sector respondents were the pay package (63%), career progression restrictions (45%) and a lack of opportunities to demonstrate their personal ability (35%).

The current shortage of digital skills is one of the major barriers for UK businesses looking to compete and scale up in the digital economy.

“We are fast becoming an information generation – expecting all areas of our lives to be connected – and the public sector is no exception,” said James Norman, public sector CIO at EMC. “The government has put strict targets in place to ensure digital technology becomes the cornerstone of public service delivery, but without the right talent, it will not meet these targets.

“We need to see a rapid change in culture and mind-set throughout public sector IT, not just in the Cabinet Office, that demonstrates a clear commitment to embracing innovation and providing a clear vision for a more digital future.”

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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