Why does the Government need 18,000 digital contractors?
The UK Government employs 18,000 digital contractors (compared to just 12,000 in-house tech specialists), according to a leaked draft of the Government Digital Transformation Strategy.
But, why has the Government chosen to take on so many, and what does this mean for contractors?
Billions of pounds have been earmarked for the Government’s drive to digitise its systems, however many analysts believe they have been too slow to hire enough digital and tech professionals.
This deficit of skills has led them to turn to digitally savvy contractors instead.
One notable point raised in the Government Digital Transformation Strategy draft is the Government’s belief that the digital skills deficit is systemic, and that additional measures will be needed to make digital skills more prevalent across the UK.
Any such process is likely to demand years of training and restructuring, suggesting there might well be significant demand for digital contractors in the public sector for some time yet.
With significant projects on the horizon — such as moving 25 million users onto ‘gov.uk Verify’ and HMRC launching its own identification system — it’s difficult to see how the Government would be able to maintain its digital operations without contractors.
However, the taxman looks set to cut off his nose to spite his face. As part of measures designed to generate £400m in additional taxes, HMRC is about to clamp down hard on self-employed workers in the public sector.