GDS offers £125,000 for director to build digital, data and technology capability across Whitehall

Written by Rebecca Hill on 31 January 2017 in News
News

Government plans to bring in expand specialist digital recruitment capabilities at the Government Digital Service and “address reward issues” in digital, data and technology have been revealed in a job advert for a new director for the function.

The position will be within GDS, which is moving to new offices this year - Photo credit: Derwent London

The position – director capability for the digital, data and technology function within the Government Digital Service – is a Senior Civil Service Pay Band 2 role, advertised at a salary of between £87,000 and £162,500. It will report in to GDS director general Kevin Cunnington.

The new recruit will be responsible for building capability across government, setting the strategy for the national Digital Academy training programme and work on formalising the digital profession and making it more attractive to talented people.


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According to the job advert, the new director will oversee the creation and embedding of a common definition and taxomony of job families for civil servants working in digital, data and technology roles – something that was first set out by Cunnington in an interview with PublicTechnology in October last year.

At the time Cunnington said the aim was to create “one national structure” that defined the 40 roles that fall under the banner of digital, data and technology, adding that this would involve setting the pay scales for people at “various levels of testable competency”, in a shift away from the standard civil service pay bands.

The government has previously come under fire for failing to compete with the private sector on recruiting the best digital staff, and the job description says that the new recruit will be expected to work with departments, the HR function and the Treasury to “address reward issues within the DDaT function”.

In addition, the director will lead the expansion of the size and scope of the GDS recruitment team to provide specialist recruitment advice and assist “less capable departments with non-[senior civil servant] recruitment activity”.

This echoes recent comments from a recruitment adviser at GDS, who said Whitehall recruitment methods are often not “proactive or productive enough” to attract the best talent. Aytan Hilton said in a blogpost: “We need to increase our specialist recruitment capability internally, and be less reliant on generalists carrying out all parts of the process.”

The director capability will also set the direction and strategy for the national expansion of the Digital Academy training programme, a scheme that Cunnington ran in his previous role at the Department for Work and Pensions. It is now set to train 30,000 civil servants a year, with four new bases being created across the country.

Other responsibilities for the director capability will be to coordinate the development of expert communities of practice, working with the head of profession and digital, data and technology leaders in Whitehall, and identifying gaps and risks within the digital function.

This will include identifying areas where departments “need additional support” and ensuring they have the capability needed to deliver the government’s yet-to-be-published transformation strategy.

They will also seek out and share good practice in departments, and work with community leaders to develop an ecosystem and culture that promotes “innovation and collaboration”, the advert said.

The Cabinet Office said applicants should have excellent leadership skills, the ability to operate strategically from the centre, experience of working in an organisation that delivers high-volume digital services and “outstanding communication and influencing skills”.

The closing date for deadlines is 9am on Monday 6 February, after which there will be a short list meeting on 10 February and interview held on 21 February. 

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