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The Recruitment and Employment Confederations Technology Sector Group has defended claims in the Times that recruitment agencies could be breaching Cabinet Office guidelines through selecting only those private sector candidates who have transferable security clearance for public sector posts.

The Times story claimed some jobseekers were being denied interviews because the posts for which they had applied required someone with security clearance.

But the REC argues that it is unfair and simplistic to put the blame on recruitment agencies for this situation especially as the Government wrote to the REC last month asking for the current Cabinet policy and guidelines to be forwarded to members.

This proves that the Government does recognise the RECs role in disseminating information on such matters to its thousands of members including specialised sectors such as technology.

However, the REC emphasised that highlighting the official guidelines were only part of the picture as it was open to different interpretations. For example, the guidance on not making security clearance a requirement includes a reference to circumstances justifying such an approach such as when there is an urgent need to recruit.

In response to the story, Les Berridge, spokesperson for RECs Technology Sector Group said: While it is encouraging that the Cabinet Office is looking to work with us because of our expertise in this particular area, there are several misconceptions which need addressing especially as recruitment activity within technology is often the most urgent area.

Agencies will have to take a direct approach on this from the individual or department concerned with the recruitment process. Specialised recruitment professionals work around the clock in meeting employers needs while at the same time maintaining the highest levels of safe and ethical recruitment.

Les Berridge added: It is not necessarily true either that you can only obtain clearance by working in the public sector as many private companies also have to clear individuals for the work they do. The REC agrees that having transferable clearance should not be made a pre-condition in order to apply for a job certainly in the case of all permanent and long term roles.

However, for some short term contract posts, there is insufficient time to put someone through clearance. So the only practical solution is to find a candidate who already has transferable clearance.

Recruitment agencies fully support inclusive procedures which make the job easier if there is a wider pool of potential candidates to put forward. However, agencies also deliver on the brief they are given, so rather than referring to the wording of an official guidance document, the key is to ensure a clearer understanding and closer working relationships between all those involved in the practicalities of the recruitment process.


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