The jobs cull among private sector IT professionals has made it easier to recruit technology staff in local government this year, but such relief may prove temporary.
In its fourth annual salary survey the Society of IT Managers (Socitm) found that 34.6 per cent of authorities had IT recruitment problems, compared to 36 per cent last year and a massive 60 per cent in 2001.
Problems in recruitment and retention have eased, but this is less to do with the appeal of public sector terms and conditions and more about weakness in the private sector, which typically offers better salaries.
"Local government IT recruitment is easier because of reduced private sector IT spending," said Stewart Jackson, member services activity manager at Socitm.
"There has been a lot of turmoil, and opportunities [for IT professionals] have gone down. E-government has meant more work which is also interesting."
But with public sector IT employees earning up to 40 per cent less than their peers in the private sector, the relief may be temporary.
"The problem is that public sector salaries have not been attractive," said Jackson.
"But the question is whether the job security, training and pensions offered in the public sector are seen as more important than short-term salary increases in the private sector."
Paul Bray, head of IT at the Local Government Association, agreed that challenges will emerge when the private sector "bounces back". But he remains confident that local government can retain staff.
Bray suggested that the public sector is becoming "far more dynamic and can attract and retain staff as a result of the government's 2005 targets for 100 per cent of services to be available online".
"The public sector pensions are also very attractive now after the problems being experienced by private sector pensions," he added.
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