Thursday, October 23, 2008

How does government convince IT contractors to work for less?

One of the recommendations of the Gershon report was that the number of IT contractors be cut by 50% - replaced by full-time staff.

Given the cost of contractors, it makes enormous sense to take this step. 

However, with virtually full employment in the IT industry, falling IT graduates and a lack of talented IT people in cities such as Canberra, how does the government go about enticing contractors to shift into staff roles?

Certainly there are perks for being employed rather than contracted - sick leave, security and more of a traditional career path.

However these perks are less relevant for GenX and GenY workers, who have a different view on what are and aren't perks than do older, more established and more security conscious baby boomers.

In the current environment the majority of the benefits for being employed rather than contracted are on the employers' side - a stable workforce, less on ramp (and off ramp) costs and reduced payroll costs.

So I will be very interested in seeing how government will go about meeting this recommendation without high unemployment, a depressed private sector or a surplus of IT workers.


  1. My role is very much project-based ... as in I work in a team for a project and that's it, I'm not longer needed. That sort of flexibility does not align well with being an APS employee. I've tried permanent employment twice now during my career and have lasted less than a year before going contracting again when the opportunity arose. However if roles for people such as myself were more readily available to switch to a new team or Department after a project concludes with only 4 weeks notice and less red tape around employment then it could possibly work.

  2. Hi Nathanael,

    Admire your work!

    Perhaps the government needs to have a central pool of ongoing people it can apply to projects across the APS on an at need basis, reducing the knowledge drain out of the APS and providing greater cross-agency collaboration.

    This would also cut the red tape around employment - and given the nature of IT I doubt that there would be gaps where people would not be working. Where these existed, they could be filled by doing non-urgent work on forwards looking initiatives.

    Just a thought!


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