‘There’s quite a lot of myth-busting we can do’: how the UK civil service can remain an attractive employer

By on 26/09/2022 | Updated on 26/09/2022
A team shaking hands around a table

While governments around the world warning of a ‘war for talent’, government in the UK is fighting its own battle amid government plans to cut 91,000 officials. In a recent Global Government Forum webinar, two UK civil servants joined experts from UK think tank Localis and digital learning platform Coursera to discuss solution to the workforce challenge.

With jobs markets tight and specialist skills thin on the ground, public sector bodies often struggle to recruit and retain the staff they need – particularly in fields where they must compete directly against private sector employers, such as finance, HR, digital and programme management.

As government departments commit to move more staff out of Whitehall as part of the government’s levelling up agenda, it has become ever more critical that public sector organisations work together to address workforce issues, and ensure that levelling up does not lead to a talent squeeze across the country.

Global Government Forum brough together experts from across the public sector to discuss how the these challenges can be met.

Key sections from the webinar included:

Debra Lowery, HR deputy director in the Department for Work and Pensions’ People, Capability and Place directorate, on the lesson from the COVID-19 pandemic

And the need for myth-busting to ensure the civil service is seen as an attractive employer

Jack Hunnaball, head of DDaT Capability Strategy and Transformation at the Cabinet Office, set out its work to create a single recruitment front door to source critical digital talent

Jonathan Werran, the chief executive of Localis – an independent think-tank dedicated to issues related to politics, public service reform and localism – set out the case for a more radical relocation strategy from Whitehall to other regions of the UK

Alina Leon-Kozenko, strategic government engagement executive from Coursera, discussed how its tools could help government organisations make sure they are keeping up with industry trends in skills.

Debra Lowery comments on why civil servants with strong basic transferable skills add the most value across teams and departments, especially when it comes to critical thinking and problem solving. She also pointed out the problem with the word ‘generalist’

Read more: ‘These cuts will have to include frontline roles’: can the UK government reach its target to cull 91,000 civil service jobs?

To learn all this and more, you can watch the 75-minute webinar via our dedicated event page. The webinar – hosted by Global Government Forum with the support of knowledge partner Coursera – was held on 8 September 2022.

About Jack Aldane

Jack is a British journalist, cartoonist and podcaster. He graduated from Heythrop College London in 2009 with a BA in philosophy, before living and working in China for three years as a freelance reporter. After training in financial journalism at City University from 2013 to 2014, Jack worked at Bloomberg and Thomson Reuters before moving into editing magazines on global trade and development finance. Shortly after editing opinion writing for UnHerd, he joined the independent think tank ResPublica, where he led a media campaign to change the health and safety requirements around asbestos in UK public buildings. As host and producer of The Booking Club podcast – a conversation series featuring prominent authors and commentators at their favourite restaurants – Jack continues to engage today’s most distinguished thinkers on the biggest problems pertaining to ideology and power in the 21st century. He joined Global Government Forum as its Senior Staff Writer and Community Co-ordinator in 2021.

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