What candidates taught us about ICT labour hire

The Digital Transformation Agency (DTA) is replacing the Digital Marketplace in 2024 to improve the way that government buys digital and ICT services. This blog series is your behind-the-scenes insight as it progresses, to understand where the project is heading and why. 

If you haven’t already, you might want to go back to the beginning to read about this project and why we are doing it.

In this instalment, we are looking at a group that does not often get input into procurement processes – candidates in ICT labour hire procurements.

We spent 12 weeks going through previous labour hire research, analysing data from opportunities under the Digital Marketplace, and conducting surveys and interviews with the labour hire candidates who offer their knowledge and services to government, and the recruitment agencies that they engage with.

This process gave us valuable insight that will hopefully help us improve ICT labour hire under the new marketplace.

Why we’re doing it

“ICT labour hire accounts for most Digital Marketplace requests for quote, with nearly double the number of requests for quote than for professional services,” said DTA Director Anthony Conway.

“But when it comes to labour hire, candidates told us that the recruitment agency often holds the power. There can be frustration with government buyers too, especially when procurement processes can appear slow, opaque, and offer little feedback.”

“We wanted to hear from candidates – not only to understand how we can improve their experience under the new marketplace coming in 2024, but also help make sure government’s labour hire arrangements are as efficient and transparent as possible.”

What we found

Our research showed that there are a lot of common experiences of labour hire – both good and bad:

  • many candidates are genuinely driven to work in the Australian government and value the impact of the work that they do
  • candidates want a better and more open connection with the hiring government agency while looking for roles
  • candidates want to trust that their recruitment agencies will be responsive, supportive, and work in their best interests
  • the recruitment agency holds the touchpoints with the buyer, while the candidate has little influence in the process
  • candidates want to know the rate that has been proposed for their services, but most recruitment agencies don’t provide this information
  • margins vary widely, even for the same candidate.

How we’ll use it

While its design is not yet final, these findings have encouraged us to look at ways to introduce improvements into the new marketplace.

Options we are currently considering include:

  • more transparency in the labour hire role application process, allowing sellers (both recruitment agencies and candidates) to see the application status
  • more opportunities for buyers to provide timely feedback to candidates
  • notifications on the marketplace for buyers, recruitment agencies, and candidates when a contract is due for renewal
  • ability for candidates to see marketplace labour hire opportunities when they are released by buyers
  • job seeker functions for candidates in the marketplace, such as subscribing to be notified of similar roles
  • greater transparency over labour hire margins, which will give all parties greater confidence that rates are fair and represent value-for-money
  • a way for candidates to find and choose a recruitment agency who has access to an ICT labour hire opportunity
  • a way to better capture candidate data to understand shifts in the labour hire landscape and seek continuous feedback

“ICT labour hire represents a significant portion of government spend, and we believe these measures have the potential to improve outcomes for all parties.” said Mr Conway

Stay with us

Keep an eye out for our next blog which will provide insight into the upcoming Digital Marketplace agreement and some of the changes to come. 

If you have something to add to this topic, email us at ICTprocurement@dta.gov.au.