Security clearance ‘still a barrier’ to IT contractors

Too many job adverts still demand contractors have a valid security clearance to be put forward, in breach of Cabinet Office (CO) guidance and to the acute frustration of those seeking temporary IT roles. 

Reflecting on a ministerial answer in Parliament this week, agency staffing body REC said that 241 vacancies have been reported to the CO since June 2010 for wrongly requiring a pre-existing clearance.

The majority of such positions affected IT professionals, REC said, leading to concern that security clearance has effectively become “a barrier” to securing computer work, particularly on a contract basis.

“This is becoming more urgent as the ratio of qualified candidates to vacancies is beginning to tighten” the REC’s technology unit added.

Chairman Jeff Brooks called on “all involved parties” in the contractual chain to ensure they play their part to address the issue, saying it was not up to “recruiters alone” to correct.

“Clients in particular should focus on planning their skills needs well in advance, something that a good recruitment agency will always encourage and be keen to help with,” he said.

He pointed out that Cerberus, an online portal that pulls together difference clearance systems, seems to be having some positive impact since its launch in March, but thinks “more must be done”. 

Underlining the need for a collaborative response, he explained: “If a client simply demands a security-cleared IT contractor to start in two weeks’ time, there is little a recruiter can do to change that brief and expectation.”

Wednesday 15th June 2011