DWP turns to recruiters to diversify pool of 'credible SCS candidates'

Pilot scheme is "opportunity to invest in a new cohort of external future leaders", contract says
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The Department for Work and Pensions has called in headhunters to run a new scheme to build up a pool of diverse and “recruitment-ready” candidates for senior civil service jobs.

The department has agreed to pay GatenbySanderson £90,000 to run a year-long pilot scheme intended to create a “future pipeline of diverse and credible candidates who want to join the Department for Work and Pensions senior leadership team”.

The firm has been asked to run a recruitment campaign to find between 15 and 20 candidates with particular protected characteristics who are currently working in senior roles in “complex organisations” outside the civil service.

All the candidates must live and work outside London; come from an ethnic-minority or lower socio-economic background; or have a disability.

They will go through a “light-touch selection process” designed by GatenbySanderson to ensure they have the “skills and experience, potential and aspirations” needed to meet the essential requirements for an SCS1 – deputy director – role.

They will be offered a number of development opportunities over the next year.

The scheme is intended to shape a “cohort of credible diverse candidates” for senior leadership roles “to supplement internal progression and improve the diversity profile across SCS”, according to contract documents published last month.

“Our aim is to engage and motivate them further to want to be part of the DWP journey. This is not a short-term solution. It is an opportunity to invest in a new cohort of external future leaders, supporting them to apply for key leadership roles within DWP and across the civil service,” the contract says.

Among other things, candidates will receive information on DWP’s selection methods and processes such as success profiles and assessments; information on how to present a strong job application; presentations from SCS leaders; and access to networking events.

“This will shape a cohort of credible diverse candidates for future senior leadership roles. Our aim is to engage and motivate them further to want to be part of the DWP journey,” the contract says.

“This is not a short-term solution. It is an opportunity to invest in a new cohort of external future leaders, supporting them to apply for key leadership roles within DWP and across the civil service,” it adds.

‘An opportunity to develop DWP’s brand’

As well as developing a pipeline of candidates, the programme will be used to understand improvements the department can make.

“It will be an opportunity to develop our brand and gather insight to the barriers our cohort experience, which can be proactively used to continuously improve our DWP process, brand and shape DWP thinking,” contract documents said of the programme.

Participants will provide feedback on DWP’s recruitment process and the “brand” of both the department and the civil service. They will also provide existing officials with a “breadth of insight and lived experience” to “encourage wider thinking about skills from private sector and transfer/scalability”.

The pilot has been funded from DWP’s SCS recruitment budget. It will initially run in two of the department’s functional areas: people, capability and place; and the policy group.

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