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Security clearance must not be a barrier to contractor jobs, REC Technology insists

Security clearance must not be a barrier to contractor jobs, REC Technology insists

Too many job adverts still demand that contractors have a pre-existing security clearance, REC Technology recognised today, and it is important that all involved parties work together to overcome this barrier for those seeking work.

A ministerial answer in Parliament this week revealed that since June 2010, 241 vacancies have been brought to the Cabinet Offices attention for requiring the applicant to already hold a security clearance. The majority of such positions are for IT professionals.

Some levels of clearance have previously taken well over a month to secure, meaning that organisations needing vacancies to be filled at short notice have demanded pre-cleared contractors.

A new online portal, Cerberus, has been developed to pull together the different clearance systems and streamline the process. Launched in March, early evidence suggests Cerberus is having some impact, but more must be done by all sides to make sure the new system provides maximum benefit.

Commenting on the issue, REC Technology Chair Jeff Brooks said:

Everyone agrees that job adverts requiring pre-existing security clearance should be avoided. Including as wide a pool of candidates as possible is best for the client, best for the recruiter and of course best for candidates seeking work. This is becoming more urgent as the ratio of qualified candidates to vacancies is beginning to tighten.

However, correcting this is not a job for recruiters alone. 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. 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.

Hopefully the new Cerberus system will reduce the approval time for new clearances, as has been promised. The REC is committed to working in partnership with PCG (Professional Contractors Group) and the civil service to monitor the impact of the new system, promote best practice to clients, and seek ways to open up this important market.

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