Delivering IT services for the public sector presents huge and unique challenges. Now more than ever, IT spend has to be justified - and prove how it makes for a more effective or efficient government. And there’s the added pressure to protect systems, networks and data with the privacy of citizens at stake.
As one of the largest employers in the country, the public sector provides good opportunities for IT graduates and trained professionals alike, with added benefits such as flexible hours and structured training and development.
The public sector, including the NHS, is one of the largest employers in the UK, accounting for 19.5% of the UK workforce (public sector Employment First Release - Q1 2008 Office for National Statistics.)
As the public sector includes such a wide range of services, it’s possible to work within an area that interests you - such as education, law enforcement, health or local councils. Each relies on IT in different ways.
For example, schools may require a secure database system to log student details; the police may need an IT specialist to work in computer forensics and a doctor’s surgery may need robust data management for patient records.
Maintenance is also a key aspect. As well as general IT support, technical services are required by all areas of the public sector, particularly for IT professionals with knowledge of networks such as LAN and WAN.
Opportunities to work for the national government exist in many places in the UK: Only 1 in 5 civil servants are based in London. The Scottish Government, Welsh Assembly Government and Northern Ireland Office also employ over 24,000 staff, mainly in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Cardiff and Belfast.
Opportunities to work in local government exist everywhere within the 468 local authorities throughout the UK.
The public sector also offers a strong continuous professional development ethos and the knowledge that the work has a significant influence on the quality of people’s lives. The length of time it takes to get things approved can be frustrating, and changes in legislation or funding often lead to unforeseen obstacles as well as new opportunities.
With IT integrated into every aspect of modern life, the need for trained specialists in the public sector is ongoing.
From business architects and software engineers, to systems officers, programmers, helpdesk technicians and data managers, public services such as the police, the NHS, schools and local government all require technical support, and are keen to attract skilled people.
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