Criminal Record Checks for IT Workers
The information technology (IT) sector is one of the most important in the world, and this situation is sure to continue. As businesses and public bodies across the globe seek to add value and efficiency to their products and services, almost every private and public enterprise relies on IT, whether directly or indirectly. As the recent cyber attack on JBS has shown, even the meat packing industry can be quickly crippled by computer problems.
With this high global profile, IT professionals are among those who most need to be ready to go where the work is. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, many IT employers insist on having their staff present at a specific workplace. This means that, if a company decides to move its HQ from one city, town or even country to another, its workforce has to be ready to go with it. Against this background, police checks for the territory in question can suddenly assume urgent importance.
Supply and Demand in the IT Industry
Recent decades have seen employment in IT become outsourced to developing countries. The Indian subcontinent, in particular, now produces a large proportion of the world’s IT professionals; in 2020, it accounted for a million cybersecurity experts alone. Demand for suitably qualified workers comes mainly from the USA, Canada, and the UK. Despite its geographical size, Singapore is also one of the world’s biggest net importers of IT experts.
As these trends continue, India itself may become a global destination (rather than departure point) for computer programmers. With one or two notable exceptions, IT systems do not respect national boundaries; indeed, it is just this transportability that makes the virtual economy so valuable. However, the fact remains that human beings remain ultimately responsible for designing and maintaining this economy; and real people have real histories, some of which make them unsuitable to obtain work in host countries.
The Importance of Honest IT Workers
There are several reasons why workers in the IT need to have bona fide credentials. While other professions such as healthcare and teaching could be said to be more immediately potentially harmful, IT is now so prevalent that dishonesty, fraud and bad intentions of any kind can be massively damaging. Indeed, as crimes in this sphere are physically invisible, they can be perpetrated over long periods of time before they are discovered; in some cases, the impact of this damage can be literally incalculable.
Apart from the damage which could affect individuals, the organizations employing IT staff are themselves vulnerable. Almost inevitably, IT professionals will have access to sensitive information relating to customers, clients, partners and business practices, disclosure of which could lead to litigation and much else. More than this, IT workers are often employed specifically to protect organizations against IT related threats; this in turn makes IT recruitment extremely attractive to sophisticated organized crime groups.
Levels of Police Checks in IT
There is no standard level of police check for workers in the IT industry. This is partly because the range of actual professions in the sector is very wide; one major recruiter lists 21 different job titles under the IT umbrella. Against this background, it would be impractical to assign one level of criminal record check to obtain any particular post in the
There is also the issue of recruitment. Employers, especially in IT, often need good, qualified staff quickly. To place a blanket disclosure level on all their recruitment would very likely make the best staff look elsewhere for work, wherever that may be. For this reason, the standard level of police check applicable to IT work is the “lowest” level, which in the UK is known as the Basic DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) Check.
This basic check can be requested by the individual applicant. It includes unspent convictions and warnings issued by any police agency.
Brexit and Police Checks for IT Workers
For people wanting to move between Britain and the EU to find work in the IT industry, the long term effects of Brexit are hard to predict. The UK produces a high number of IT professionals, many of whom have traditionally looked to the City of London for immediate and future employment; particularly as interns. This being the case, the basic DBS check is usually adequate to comply with recruitment standards. In the short term at least, this is likely to remain the case.
One consequence of Brexit, however, could be a shift in concentration away from London (and possibly the wider UK) to continental Europe for jobs in IT. Native English speakers have an advantage for IT jobs, as this is widely expected for young IT professionals on the continent. Conversely, multilingualism is relatively rare among British workers, and the market IT workers is likely to be more competitive than less in future. This being the case, having a portable, internationally recognized police certificate could be very valuable.
What Will Covid Mean for IT Applicants’ Eligibility?
International travel is one of the many areas of activity which are likely to be affected by the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, and the actions taken by governments around the world. At least temporarily, what status any given destination has on a particular nation’s travel list will affect who is likely to want (or be able) to travel to another one. This will have effects on each country’s desirability as an employer, especially as variants in the virus are immediately identified with a geographical location.
ACRO police checks provided by CRB Direct are almost as valuable as a visa, especially for countries which do not actually require one for travel or work. Any IT employer can use this check for most of their open positions, as these will require basic level disclosures. With the continually shifting nature of employment in IT likely to be exacerbated by the pandemic, having such assurance ready is a tool any digital professional would welcome.