Number of civil servants in digital, data, and tech roles continues to rise

While the civil service has shrunk dramatically, its volume and proportion of IT and digital professionals have gone up and up, ONS data reveals

Some 2.8% of the civil service workforce are now employed in digital, data, or tech roles, up from 1.5% in 2010  Credit: PA

The number of digital, data, and technology workers in the civil service rose 5% last year – its fifth consecutive annual spike – to a total of almost 12,000 people.

Data from the Office for National Statistics revealed that, as of the end of March 2017, the total number of people employed by the UK civil service stood at 419,399. This represents a year-on-year rise of 0.3% on the 2016 figure, and the first time the number has grown since 2010.

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There are now 11,860 civil servants working in digital, data, and technology roles. This is an increase of more than 500 people on the March 2016 figure, equating to an annual rise of 4.9%.

The number of civil service employees working in digital and tech roles has now increased in nine of the last 10 years, and in each of the last five. 

In 2016 the figure rose 12.2% to 11,305, while in 2015 – when the ONS still classified digital and tech roles as IT – the number rose a whopping 19.2% to 10,079. In 2014 the amount of civil service IT professionals jumped 10.8% year on year to 8,458.

Since 2013, when 7,634 IT staff were on the books, the number of technology-focused roles in the civil service has risen by a total of 55.4% to its current level. This equates to an extra 4,226 employees.

Meanwhile, the wider civil service has contracted sharply.

In 2010 there were 527,484 civil servants in the UK. Six years later, this figure had plummeted by well over 100,000, to last year’s low of 418,343. This represents a decline of 20.7%, meaning more than one in five civil service posts have been done away with.

Concurrently, the proportion of the civil service accounted for by IT and digital workers has almost doubled since 2010, when it stood at 1.5% – or one in every 68 members of staff. Now, 2.8% of civil servants are employed in digital, data, or technology posts – equating to one in every 35 members of the workforce.


Number of civil servants employed in digital, data, and technology (2016 and 2017) and IT (2008 to 2015) roles
Source: ONS

  • 2017 – 11,860, out of an overall total of 419,399 civil servants
    Total of 555 extra digital staff compared with the prior year, equating to an annual increase of 4.9%  
  • 2016 – 11,305, out of overall total of 418,343
    1,226 extra staff, 12.2% increase
  • 2015 – 10,079, out of overall total of 433,812
    1,621 extra staff, 19.2% increase
  • 2014 – 8,458 out of overall total of 439,942
    824 extra staff, 10.8% increase
  • 2013 – 7,634, out of overall total of 448,835
    162 extra staff, 2.2% increase
  • 2012 – 7,472, out of overall total of 463,812
    479 fewer staff, 6% decrease
  • 2011 –  7,951, out of overall total of 498,433
    141 extra staff, 1.8% increase
  • 2010 – 7,810, out of overall total of 527,484
    733 extra staff, 10.4% increase
  • 2009 – 7,077, out of overall total of 524,423
    547 extra staff, 8.4% increase
  • 2008 – 6,530, out of overall total of 515,660
    140 extra staff, 2.2% increase

Sam Trendall

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