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Skills 'deficit' forces Student Loans Company to spend heavily on temp staff

The organisation has spent £2.6 million on agency staff as it struggles to retain technical employees

The Student Loans Company (SLC) has been forced to spend £2.6 million on temporary agency staff to make up for a "deficit" in specific technical skills.  

According to its annual report, the SLC saw a 7.86% staff turnover between April 2020 and March 2021, with its headcount dropping from 3,308 to 3,199.  

The SLC, a subdivision of the Department of Education (DfE), has struggled to retain and recruit staff, particularly in technology roles, according to the report.

The shortage is attributed to high staff retention in competitive recruitment markets, with skilled technology professionals taking positions at organisations that offer higher salaries and or greater benefits. This, the report suggests, has forced the SLC to spend heavily on agency staff. 

Cyber security skills appear to be in particularly short supply with the SLC keen to bring talented individuals into its Security Programme. According to a recent report from the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, the UK's cyber security industry currently has a shortfall of 10,000 people a year.

While it lacks technical talent, the SLC's report suggests cyber security expenditure is increasing. During the year the report covers the SLC's technology licencing and maintenance costs shot up by around £2.4 million as it sought to ensure systems were secure enough to combat rising cyber threats.

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"Like many organisations, SLC employs specialised technical roles within a highly competitive global market, we recognise this and since 19/20 we have introduced various successful measures to recruit and retain an engaged and motivated workforce," an SLC spokesperson told IT Pro

"We have adopted the cross-government Digital, Data and Technology Profession Capability Framework to attract necessary skills, in addition to significant investment in our emerging talent programmes, including the employment of Graduates and Apprentices in technical areas."

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