Security Clearance for IT Jobs in the Public Sector

Have you thought about working in the public Sector and what is involved? We hear people talking about Security Clearance; Most Public Sector organisations will require some sort of clearance, but do we really understand the levels of clearance, the process and the time it takes to obtain?

Certes have been working within the Public Sector for over 30 years and we still get asked about the security clearance process on a daily basis. Understanding the clearance levels and process can take some time to get your head around.

For IT professionals seeking roles within the Public and Defence sectors, it’s important to understand that security clearance must be given before the assignment can begin. Candidates must undergo differing levels of Government security checks, dependent on the role, to ensure that they don’t pose any risk to national security when working with sensitive assets.

Whilst security clearance takes time and certainly requires a lot of paperwork (particularly for higher levels of clearance), success in security clearance can result in many benefits, including job security, and plenty of IT opportunities within the Public Sector.

How to get Security Clearance

To obtain a Security Clearance an individual will need to have a sponsor; this will be the organisation that is requesting the clearance.  Security Clearances are carried out by UKSV (United Kingdom Security Vetting) UKSV previously called DBS NSV (Defence Business Services National Security Vetting) if your role is dependant on Security clearance, you will not be able to start until clearance is obtained, however, depending on the role and the organisation, you may be able to start with a lower level of security whilst the higher level is being processed. This means you may have restricted access to site or the need to be escorted until clearance is granted.

Levels of Security Clearance

There are four main types of security clearance:

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard (BPSS)
  • Counter-Terrorism Check (CTC)
  • Security Check (SC)
  • Developed Vetting (DV)

Baseline Personnel Security Standard

BPSS includes the Baseline Personnel Security Standard and the Enhanced Baseline Standard (EBS) and is required for higher level security clearance. BPSS acts as a pre-employment check to ascertain how trustworthy and reliable a prospective candidate is, whilst EBS acts as a pre-cursor to higher level, more in-depth security checks.

Counter-Terrorism Check

CTC is a security check to prevent people with who may have connections to terrorist organisations, or who may be vulnerable to pressure from terrorists, from gaining clearance to sensitive information that may be compromised.

This level of security clearance is usually required by IT professionals working for the Police, Legal Agencies and Government agencies hiring contractors.

Security Check

SC is the most common level of clearance and applies to IT roles that require access to secret or top-secret assets. Security check clearance is transferable between different government departments and can cover a wide range of Public Sector jobs, including IT, Health, Government, Defence, MoD and the private sector.

To gain SC clearance, candidates will usually need to have been a UK resident for a minimum of 5 years and will be required to complete the following stages of vetting:

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard
  • Departmental/Company Records Check
  • Security Questionnaire
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Security Service Check

SC will usually take up to 13 weeks to complete and is valid for 5 years for contractors, or 10 years for permanent employees.

Developed Vetting

DV is the highest level of security clearance for IT professionals in the Public Sector. Candidates in DV cleared roles have substantial access to top-secret assets, without supervision, and/or work closely with Government security and intelligence agencies.

Developed Vetting applies to IT positions within the Government, Defence, MoD and Aerospace. Checks are highly specialised and job specific. Stages of vetting include:

  • Baseline Personnel Security Standard
  • Criminal Record Check
  • Departmental/Company Records Check
  • DV Questionnaire
  • Credit Reference Check and Review of Personal Finances
  • Security Service Check
  • Check of Mental and Psychological Information

In addition to these checks, DV candidates will normally have been a UK resident for a minimum of 10 years and must also undergo an individual interview and further enquiries. Character referees, and current and previous employers or supervisors will also be contacted in writing, by telephone or by interview.

As a result of the high level of clearance granted by Developed Vetting and the in-depth checks carried out, clearance takes between 12 to 18 months to complete, so candidates should refrain from handing in their notice to current employers until clearance is given.

DV aftercare may also be required for some positions for risk management purposes. The validity of DV clearance is valid for a pre-determined period, after which, it must be reviewed.

Why would I be refused a Security Clearance?

Once you have completed the paperwork and submitted, your application will be processed and reviewed, it is important to remember that your clearance could be refused at any time and for any reason.  These checks are carried out to ensure you are suitable for a specific task and to provide assurance that the individual is trustworthy holds no threat and have a verifiable background, if for any reason upon processing the clearance application anything is flagged the application can be refused.  Some examples as to why a clearance could be refused are:

  • Financial irregularities- CCJ or high volumes of debt – could make an applicant a target for bribery.
  • Gaps in employment history that cannot be explained or confirmed are a reason for refusal.
  • Employment records – any indication from an employer that the individual is untrustworthy or a risk to security are also a reason for refusal.
  • Any indication in security service records that an applicant or any of their family members have any links to radical groups, espionage or terrorism could allow the vetting unit to refuse clearance.

If you are interested in applying for a security cleared IT jobs in the Public Sector, or have queries about security clearance, call +44(0)1675 468968 or contact us online.

IT Careers in Focus: Analysts

An IT Analyst is responsible for the design, analysis and implementation of efficient IT systems. They have a clear understanding of business and technological needs and collect user feedback to further improve their systems.

In addition to prioritising user requirements, an IT Analyst is also responsible for managing system upgrades and researching new tools. Therefore, this requires an analytical mind, clear communication and strength in problem solving.

In terms of career experience, proven experience in a similar role and project management is essential. A BSc/BA in related courses to Engineering and Computer Science are also required, for sound knowledge in system security, databases and troubleshooting.

Job Responsibilities

Your responsibilities as an IT Analyst will cover a variety of duties and will involve communication with different teams within the business. From overseeing IT projects to compiling data into sophisticated reports, your job responsibilities as an IT Analyst may include:

  • Communicating with stakeholders on their requirements
  • Collecting feedback on system performance from end users
  • Designing, analysing and implementing technology solutions
  • Integration of systems to meet team needs
  • Analysis and development of functional specifications
  • Management and planning of overall projects

To support you in your daily work, it is also essential to keep up to date with relevant developments in technology. As well as expanding your knowledge, this may also assist you in creating more efficient and cost-effective systems for your place of work.

Possible Career Routes

There are a variety of sectors you can look in to for IT careers as an analyst. These can vary in duties, to cater to different business needs. Some roles may require you to compile data reports and train teams, whereas others may have more of a focus on customer service. Different job titles can include:

  • Service Desk Analyst
  • Data Business Analyst
  • Test and Implementation Analyst
  • Application Support Analyst
  • Digital Business Analyst
  • Finance Business Analyst
  • Business Analyst
  • Evidential Analyst
  • Business Intelligence Analyst
  • IT Business Analyst
  • Cloud Support Analyst
  • Infrastructure Analyst
  • Network and Infrastructure Analyst

How to Apply

As IT recruitment specialists, we have the expertise to assist companies in fulfilling their staff needs. With a range of IT careers ready for applications, we can help find the right candidate for the right job. Whether you are a new graduate or a senior executive, we can help you find the next step on your career path.

With a 30 year success track record, Certes is the go-to platform for careers in IT. We currently have a range of IT Analyst vacancies available across the UK ready for applicants. To apply, visit our vacancies page for more information.

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