Departments push to fill hundreds of Brexit roles as EU departure approaches

Written by Beckie Smith on 23 August 2019 in News
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Job adverts for comms, policy and border staff open with weeks to go until Brexit

Photo: Innov8Social/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

Government departments are trying to recruit more than 700 people to help get them ready to leave the EU, develop post-Brexit policy and manage the UK’s borders once it has left the bloc, CSW can reveal.

With just over two months left until the UK is due to leave the European Union, and the government working on the assumption of a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, job postings on the Civil Service Jobs Board reveal departments still have skills and capacity gaps to fill.

A CSW examination of job adverts on the site found 701 positions in policy, communications, regulation and border control that are either entirely or largely concerned with Brexit, or which have been created to help prepare for Brexit. Some adverts are for newly-created roles, while others are to replace departing civil servants.


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The biggest recruiter by far is the Home Office, which is looking to recruit hundreds of staff to help operate the border and conduct extra immigration checks after Brexit. It is recruiting 242 Border Force officers, along with 88 apprentices to work in the agency. A further five Border Force staff are being recruited to handle sniffer and security dogs.

Last month the department announced a drive to recruit 1,000 Border Force staff, on top of the 900 it has recruited last year, to conduct immigration and customs checks after Brexit as part of its no-deal contingency planning. This week it emerged that the figures would include staff recruited via temp agencies for the first time.

The Home Office is also seeking 277 passport examiners to work in HM Passport Office locations in Glasgow, Casnewydd, Peterborough, Belfast, Durham and Liverpool.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs meanwhile has a live job ad for 50 senior EU exit policy advisers to work on a range of areas including farming, environmental regulations, fishing and animal welfare.

The job advert was originally posted in March, and says recruitment is happening on an rolling basis – meaning that some of the roles may have been filled, ahead of the 1 September closing date. A Defra spokesperson said the department was unable to offer a running commentary on ongoing recruitment.

Other departments seeking policy professionals include the Ministry of Justice, which is looking for two policy advisers on legal services and EU exit, and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, which is adding to its team working on post-Brexit goods regulation.

The MoJ’s job posting, which closes on 14 December, notes that the ministry is leading international negotiations on “many aspects of the justice system” affected by Brexit, including civil, criminal, and family law, and the legal profession itself. “We are looking to recruit self-motivated, enthusiastic and flexible individuals to work at the centre of planning for these changes and ensuring the best outcome for the UK, and the EU,” it said.

The Home Office, BEIS and the Department for International Trade are among those that are looking to bolster their communications teams in the coming weeks with Brexit-facing staff. DIT is seeking two senior EU exit communications managers, who will be asked to "motivate businesses to take required action so they can continue to trade without unnecessary disruption".

And a number of watchdogs and agencies are adding to their Brexit-focused teams. The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency is seeking an EU and Brexit policy lead, who will be “responsible for leading on Brexit policy for medicines, clinical trials and medical devices regulations”; while the Food Standards Agency wants a trade policy lead to coordinate FSA Wales’ trade input in preparation for and after Brexit.

The Health and Safety Executive has live job ads for 19 regulatory scientists to join its Brexit team, in areas such as toxicology and pesticides.

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Not included in the analysis are hundreds of live job postings that say Brexit is a factor in recruitment, or that successful candidates' job descriptions will include significant Brexit-related responsibilities.

The Department for Transport is seeking a response and operational resilience adviser to support “all aspects” of DfT’s response team’s work, including counter terrorism, civil contingencies and EU exit, and the Cabinet Office is recruiting a chief press officer “partly owing to” the department’s extra responsibilities for preparing the government for Brexit. HM Revenue and Customs is meanwhile looking to appoint a customer strategy and tax design communications manager who will, among other things, “partner closely with colleagues in the business supporting EU exit preparations”.

And the Competition and Markets Authority says it is “undergoing rapid business growth” in light of Brexit and digital technology in several job adverts for litigation advisers, regulation managers and other staff. It adds that the CMA’s role is becoming “even more important” in light of the UK’s departure from the EU.

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Beckie Smith
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Beckie Smith is a reporter for CSW who tweets @Beckie__Smith.

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