How can the public sector attract and then retain people with the right skills in order to ensure digital transformation goals are met? GovTech Leaders asked three recruitment specialists, all with experience of recruiting staff to the public sector, for their thoughts and ideas.
Matthew Drinkwater, regional director, Woodrow Mercer:
- For the public sector to stand out and attract the best talent, it faces the challenge of competing with the ever-growing UK tech community. Alongside traditional industries like manufacturing and retail, the public sector is competing with a new wave of disruptive technology businesses. These companies are often a more attractive prospect for the next generation of individuals entering the technology workplace.
- I would advise public sector organisations to re-envisage their external brand and present themselves as the place to learn new skills, work with the latest technologies and sit alongside the best in the industry. For instance, case studies are a great way to maximise the image of a team and entice flourishing, hidden gems towards it. The primary reason why our candidates would actively choose a newer company is to be at the forefront of something genuinely different. The public sector must become candidate-centric and find an alternative to conventional recruitment using its specialist knowledge to go above and beyond.
- Another primary reason why candidates look for a new job is to learn new skills and become fulfilled. Information Security and Artificial Intelligence look set to dominate the landscape over the next few years. However, to attract the future stars of the technology industry, the outward perception of a public-sector organisation must be of one where there are training opportunities within these two fields.
- We’ve found that typical methods of attracting talent merely from advertising simply don’t get you the very best. Finding the elite requires expert knowledge, significant effort and a tailored approach for each technical discipline. We must find more creative ways of uncovering the right candidates, but ultimately remain reliant on our clients to ensure their brand image is prestige enough to spike the right person’s interest. Meetups, events, creating an identity, publishing high-quality content and clearly presenting career development potential are the best ways to consistently get through to the right people.
James Lloyd-Townshend, CEO, Mason Frank International:
- Target the graduate market. Legacy systems used in the public sector are slowly undergoing modernisation, and it’s this new wave of employees, who have knowledge of cloud tech, that can help you stay ahead of the curve when it comes to implementation.
- Build a positive relationship with schools, universities, and other educational platforms, and use the partnership to promote a positive route from education into employment through trainee and apprenticeship roles.
- Invest in the future and nurture emerging talent from the inside out. It’s well documented there is a massive skills gap in the tech sector, and all businesses have a vested interest to work together to reduce this.
- Open your business up to employees of every level. Give them a place to learn, grow and increase their skills by offering them fully funded certifications and training; opportunities they won’t get anywhere else.
James Calder, chief executive, Distinct Recruitment:
- Public sector recruiters need to ensure they are advertising placements on the correct platforms. Jobs boards aren’t enough these days, especially if you’re looking to get those talented in tech. Targeted ad campaigns on social media will be beneficial as well as ensuring that all organisations have an active presence online.
- Without an active social media presence, organisations will not be putting their best foot forward to those that subconsciously analyse an online presence.
- Encouraging partnerships with universities is also a crucial way to develop relationships with those in graduate recruitment and the students themselves. Attending graduate fairs and such is obviously a great step to reaching this goal. However, attending ‘hackathons’ and sponsoring university web tech societies is also an invaluable way to get in touch with future tech talent.
- Whilst developing an online presence, public sector organisations need to create a brand away from the state. Changing perceptions of workplaces and tasks that may be asked of future recruits is key. This can be done through engaging and genuine content online across social media and on key website pages.
- It’s important to note that future tech sector talent doesn’t automatically mean young graduates fresh out of university. It’s important for the public sector to identify older candidates and even those they may be able to develop internally over time.