The department tasked with delivering the government’s flagship levelling up agenda has called in headhunters to help build its “brand” after finding a “scarcity of senior talent” to work in some of the roles at its Wolverhampton base.
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has enlisted external support after data from the Cabinet Office’s Places for Growth team – which is leading the push to increase departments’ presence outside London – suggested there is a shortage of local skills in some priority areas like project and programme delivery.
It has therefore commissioned a “talent mapping” exercise to support the first wave of SCS recruitment to its Midlands office, as well as running a hiring campaign for a senior policy official.
“This is not a typical senior resourcing exercise; we are still building our employer brand in the region,” recently published contract documents say.
GatenbySanderson will run both the recruitment and talent mapping work, as well as a separate nationwide campaign for levelling up directors, in a £76,500 package deal.
The recruitment firm will help DLUHC build an “understanding of the senior talent base” in several skill areas and support the first set of campaigns to hire senior civil servants to work in Wolverhampton.
It will gather information on “how the DLUHC brand is perceived” by potential candidates for policy and planning senior leadership jobs, and give recommendations on how to strengthen its image.
“Wolverhampton is a new DLUHC location for attracting and appointing senior talent and required an experienced executive search firm to build our understanding of the senior talent base across a range of skill sets and support on our initial tranche of SCS recruitment campaigns where we are seeking candidates in Wolverhampton only as the candidate location,” the contract reads.
The search firm will assess how the department’s reward packages compare with those of its competitors, and gather information on the diversity and salary expectations of would-be officials.
It will then map out “professional profiles” of potential candidates, looking at how likely they are to be motivated to move jobs and in what timeframe.
The company will also manage the recruitment of a policy director, who will play a significant leadership role as they will be the most senior official based at the office DLUHC has branded its “second headquarters”.
It will advise the department on a strategy before identifying potential candidates and running adverts, then interviewing and providing feedback.
DLUHC is “particularly interested” in attracting disabled candidates and those from a low socio-economic or ethnic-minority background, and has instructed the firm to encourage a “diverse field” of applicants.
Selling DLUHC's 'USP' to levelling up directors
As well as building its presence in the Black Country, DLUHC is in the process of hiring a dozen levelling up directors across England, fulfilling a commitment in the February white paper.
The white paper promised that the directors would deliver "a new approach to places", working with local bodies to build capacity and capability, improve the evidence for decision makers and champion their regions.
The third part of GatenbySanderson’s threefold brief is to run a “candidate attraction campaign” to help recruit directors nationwide.
Its tasks include giving DLUHC advice on its strategy for attracting qualified candidates for the director jobs – including how to promote its “unique selling point” and using social media and running a “high-profile” nationwide campaign.
A job advert for the levelling up directors, which closed this week, invited “exceptional leaders” to come forward for the “once in a lifetime opportunity to work across local and central government to fix deep-seated issues in places and help hold government to account for the delivery of levelling up missions”.
The directors will earn between £120,000 and £144,000 and will be based around the country, with 21 possible locations listed including Belfast, Birkenhead, Plymouth and Leeds.