The public sector covers a wide range of services from the NHS and central government to local authorities such as schools and councils. As such there is a range of IT roles for graduates (or ICT as it is known – information communications technology). The projects you work on are also constantly different and challenging. And contrary to what some might think, this sector does work with the latest technology.
Public sector technology trends
The objectives of ICT in the public sector have changed in recent years. On the one hand the standard roles such as support technicians, desktop and network engineers still remain. But there is an increasing push to develop the way systems work and interact with the public.
The NHS is moving towards fully accessible electronic links between doctor and patient; councils are moving towards a more direct link between themselves and citizens.
As a graduate entering this sector, it helps to have a broad understanding of IT roles and new technology. It is also useful to have a basic knowledge of the workings of the public sector, recent developments and large-scale projects (such as the government's digital transformation strategy). It does depend on the area you join. If you’re a network technician, for example, your role would be similar whatever organisation you join. If you are a project manager or a web developer, a broader interest in public services is preferred.
Applying for graduate IT jobs in the public sector
Depending on how technical the role, public sector ICT employs graduates from any degree background. Employers will obviously look for technical ability, and assessment for technical roles may include aptitude testing. If you’re applying for a more diverse role such as project management, then broader skills such as communication and teamwork come to the fore.
How to progress your public sector IT career
The sector works on a career progression scheme (CPS) and you would most likely enter at the trainee level. Graduates from both IT and non-IT backgrounds will receive a high level of technical training. Five years down the line you would find yourself highly trained, well skilled and possibly in a management position. There is certainly scope for quick progress up the levels of the CPS. The great thing about working across a range of projects and services is there is always the possibility of specialising in areas or moving laterally to gain more experience.
Choose this IT career area if...
- You want to work in a sector full of variety.
- You want to be part of a work culture that is committed to providing service to the community.
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