Public sector IT skills shortages puts brakes on digital transformation of government services | Cloud industry forum

Public sector IT skills shortages puts brakes on digital transformation of government services

Research report from CIF and its Public Sector Specialist Interest Group (SIG) reveals that 40 per cent of public sector organisations do not have the right skills in place to adapt to digital transformation

Skills shortages in the public sector are inhibiting government’s capacity to adapt cloud computing, and are therefore putting a brake on the government’s drive to radically change the way it offers services to citizens through digital transformation. This is according to recently published research from the Cloud Industry Forum (CIF) and CIF’s cross vendor Public Sector SIG, which stresses the role of Professional CIF membership in helping organisations develop the in-house expertise to effectively adapt cloud computing services as the enabler of deep digital transformation.

Carrying out the seventh major body of research to determine the level of cloud adoption in the UK private and public sector, Vanson Bourne found that 40 per cent of public sector organisations lack the necessary skills to adapt to digital transformation, and that 41 per cent have run up against a lack of internal skills and/or knowledge when attempting to migrate to a cloud solution.

Alex Hilton, Chief Executive of CIF, commented on the research findings: “Working with the technology that underpins digital transformation, such as on-demand cloud computing services, requires a different skill set from the traditional, proprietary IT technology of the past. Historically, many government departments and agencies have outsourced their ICT services to system integrators (SIs), in some instances believing they had also outsourced the risk by doing so. This reliance on SIs, combined with the cutbacks imposed by years of austerity, has left many public sector organisations without the necessary skills and staff in-house to confidently adapt to new approaches to ICT such as the cloud.”

The research identified a pronounced difference in the impact of skills shortages on public sector organisations compared with private sector organisations, with double the amount of the former highlighting a lack of in-house skills as a pressure point during the migration process and a cause of dissatisfaction (24 per cent compared to just 12 per cent). Hilton expanded on the implications of this finding: “This widening skills gap between the public and private sector is worrying within the context of the general ICT skills shortage, suggesting that the private sector is doing a better job of drawing from the already-scarce digital talent base, leaving government organisations with a smaller pool to draw from. While it's heartening to see government seeking to create a more digitally-savvy civil service and moving in the right direction, with the GDS Digital Academy providing skills training right across government, without the ICT skills in place these initiatives will be hampered.

“In order to alleviate this issue, public sector organisations can take two approaches. They can seek to boost their in-house skillset by investing in training and guidance that enables them to more effectively and smoothly adopt core digital transformation technologies. Professional CIF membership, for example, enables professionals to access guidance and e-learning courses that help them to take full advantage of cloud."

Peter Middleton, Chairman of the public sector SIG, concluded by commenting on the role of the SIG within this context: "Tapping into the specialised skillsets of third-parties is also a good approach to taking on the problem. While outsourcing everything to SIs has often resulted in an inability to adapt to new technologies, SMEs and cloud specialists can provide a more bespoke and agile service. However, there have been some teething problems in establishing mutual understanding between the public sector and these specialists, and that’s why CIF established a Special Interest Group dedicated to helping public sector organisations better understand the cloud marketplace and to helping CSPs meet their requirements.”

For more information about the research or to download the white paper – Cloud: Unlocking transformation across the UK’s public sector – visit: