For many years the most dynamic and cutting-edge IT roles have traditionally been seen as the sole territory of the private sector, yet on closer inspection there are some mouth-watering opportunities available if you choose to go public.
Just as many private companies aim to maximise productivity and efficiency, the same rings true in the public sector, with IT playing a central role in achieving and delivering those goals. Several large-scale projects with a significant IT presence will be launching over the next few years, which in turn may swell the opportunities open to IT workers looking to delve into the world of the public sector. The government's £1.2bn investment in the e-borders initiative as well as numerous opportunities arising from the London 2012 Olympics are just some examples of where both permanent and contract work will be available over the coming years.
If you're thinking of making the move from private through to public then there will be numerous differences to take into consideration. For example, in the private sector when there's a problem, there's often a tendency to throw money at it until a solution is found. Public sector IT is largely governed by strict budgets, which are set annually and fixed, its important to consider some of the experience you have developed in managing budgets in the past and apply them in your future role. What's more, salary and career progression could be a little slower off the mark in the public sector as the variety and scope of opportunities is slightly more limited. However, what you get in return is a chance to be part of some dynamic upcoming IT projects, job security, peace of mind, good holiday entitlement and an excellent pension. All in all, definitely worthy of your consideration!
As the credit crunch bites, IT contractors are quickly picking up the pace as organisations look to take action as the permanent market begins to slow. Although hiring contractors can be pricier than salaried employees, it's often the case that companies are more likely to pay that little bit extra to hire someone on a temporary basis to allow them to switch that resource on and off as needed. In the current climate it's a certainly a trend we've seen developing.
For those considering a move into contract work there are certainly benefits. For permanent staff, many employment niggles lie with a lack of variety of opportunities available. For many contractors the freedom and flexibility of their work allows them to focus on a specific project and remain 'psychologically distant' from company politics, moving on to new opportunities when the occasion arises or according to their own circumstances.
For the uninitiated - on a typical contract, you'd spend around 8 hours a day, for 5 days a week working on a specific project, with your roles, responsibilities and goals outlined in your contract description. Typically your work would be overseen and monitored by a manager within the organisation. However as jobs tumble, contractors and temporary staff are often the first to feel the effects.
One of the issues people have with moving into contract work is the very cutthroat nature of the business. As competition increases, we've also seen contract pay rates decrease over the last few weeks, so there are a number of reasons to weigh up the pros and cons of such a move before diving in. For those IT staff currently working on contract the expectation of going from one role to another in quick succession has been tempered, forcing contractors to be much more pragmatic about their work.
The overall feeling remains optimistic; as organisations seek short-term measures to offset a period of instability, opportunities will be there. It's for those with the right skills, determination and confidence to go out and take them.