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Section 1: What action is the Welsh Government considering and why?

In light of increasing pressure for additional resource to respond to EU Transition, Covid-19 and critical ‘business as usual’ requirements, a priority resourcing review was undertaken by each Group within Welsh Government. ExCo reviewed the output of these reviews and agreed that a specific number of critical priority posts could be recruited to; firstly via internal redeployment, then by a series of centrally co-ordinated external recruitment campaigns.

The WG Deployment Policy was put into immediate effect with the HR Strategy Team seeking to fill circa 1/3 of the posts deemed most critical for WG. The remaining priority posts, a number of which still require final approval, will need to be recruited to via external recruitment.

To ensure the external recruitment campaigns provide long term resilience, are affordable, and reduce our reliance on Agency, Contractor or Direct Appointments, ExCo have agreed they will be in line with the following principles:

  • All adverts and appointments will be made on the basis of ‘Fair, Open and on Merit’ recruitment unless there are exceptional reasons for a Direct appointment.
  • All appointments will be time limited and run for no longer than 2 years.
  • For those posts recruited to via ‘Fair open and on Merit’ recruitment, there is potential that they may be converted to permanent appointments at a later date should it be business critical, affordable and appropriate. ExCo would make any final decision on this.
  • A reserve list will be created, where possible, to provide a supply of candidates for similar roles should they be required.
  • All posts will usually be Programme funded and this will include the resulting ‘on-costs’ from the Appointment – groups will be responsible for ensuring approvals are in place for using programme funds for staffing.
  • There are a small number of DRC funded roles that may be agreed by exception by ExCo where an existing colleague leaves the organisation or where there is a critical need (this would be limited though).

The significant majority of priority roles which are approved for external recruitment are likely to be ‘generalist’ in there nature i.e. in the areas of policy development, government business, programme and project management, operational delivery, etc. However, there will also be a number of highly specialised roles which may require ‘direct’ appointment routes and/or bespoke specialist assessment methods. In recognition of this; the amount of resource we have available to deliver the priority resource requirements; and in order to fill these roles in a co-ordinated, efficient and effective manner; a 3 strand approach is being taken.

1. Cross-Civil Service/Other Government Dept. Lateral Advert for inward Loans:

This will be a series of generic advertisements, by Grade, for substantive Civil Servants who have been appointed through ‘Fair, Open and on Merit’ recruitment. The Grades advertised will be G7 first, followed by SEO, HEO, EO and TS. All adverts/recruitment processes will be centrally designed, co-ordinated and delivered. Each Loan will run for a minimum term of 6 months and a maximum term of 2 years. An outreach plan has been developed to support this campaign using networks across the civil service to reach a broad and diverse field of eligible applicants.

2. External Fixed Term Appointment Scheme (also open to Secondment):

This will be a series of generic advertisements, by Grade, open to the general public. The Grades advertised will be G7 first, followed by SEO, HEO and EO. A TS recruitment may also be run as part of this recruitment campaign, or a separate Apprentice scheme will take place later in the year. A final decision on this is yet to be made. All adverts/recruitment processes will be centrally designed, co-ordinated and delivered. Each appointment made via this route will join WG on a Fixed Term Appointment or Secondment and will have a minimum term of 6 months to a maximum term of 2 years. An outreach plan has been developed to encourage applications from communities which are currently under represented in the WG. The content of the advert and communications is intended to make the schemes as attractive, open and accessible as possible.

3. External Appointments of Professions or Specialists

A limited number of individual Profession/Specialist recruitment schemes will be run by relevant Groups in partnership with the local HR Business Partner Teams, the Shared Service Centre Recruitment Team and the HR Transition Team. Each Advert will be posted by the relevant line manager and/or localised recruitment processes will be undertaken. With oversight from the HR Transition Team and delivery support from HR Business Partner Teams and the Shared Service Centre we can ensure these schemes supply the required resource and are compliant with Civil Service Commission and WG policy/procedures. Each appointment made via this route will not exceed 2 years.

Consideration of the 5 ways of working in the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015 to the proposed action, throughout the policy and delivery cycle

Long term

There are no long term trends/ challenges and opportunities which affect the proposal because it will be delivered over a relatively short space of time. However, the proposal itself has long term implications because in addition to increasing resource, it is intended to broaden the skills and diversity of those employed by WG. This will benefit the organisation as a whole and the citizens it serves i.e. by recruiting more people and ensuring those people have the skills the organisation needs, this scheme hopes to contribute towards better quality policy and legislative development and delivery across the Welsh Government.

In order to drive a more diverse filed of applicants (that better represent the people of Wales) distinct attention has been paid to the language and outreach of the adverts.

In comparison to previous schemes this approach also allows us to potentially retain these individuals on a long term basis in the future (subject to business need) therefore potentially improving our long term diversity and contributing to our organisational commitments as part of the Equality Action Plan.

Prevention

The proposal supports the breaking of negative cycles (poverty, poor health, environmental) through recruiting skilled staff to take the lead on policy solutions.

It also seeks to increase the diversity of those employed by Welsh Government by making it clear that the Welsh Government welcomes and encourages applications from people with protected characteristics.

Increasing employee diversity, to levels which are more reflective of the population in Wales can help achieve more considered, inclusive, representative policy development and delivery across the Welsh Government.

The external fair, open and on merit scheme has the potential to recruit a large number of individuals (and create a potential large pool of reserve candidates). We expect to receive a significant number of applications from individuals who have been financially disadvantaged as a result of Covid-19.

The minimisation of negative impacts is small (given the nature of the scheme) but all interviews will be taken remotely and virtually which reduces potential emissions as it will not require individuals to travel using their own/personal transport.

Integration

Through filling a significant amount of key priority roles across Welsh Government this recruitment programme will help provide Ministers with the resource needed to deliver their commitments in Taking Wales Forward and Prosperity for All and will benefit a range of different policy areas.

By making it clear that people can apply from a range of backgrounds or the third sector on Fixed Term Appointments, Secondment or Loan, the proposal will enable the sharing of knowledge and experience between organisations. This links with the commitment in Prosperity for All to enable public services and the voluntary sector to work together for the good of the people of Wales.

Collaboration

The HR Transition team has liaised and consulted with a range of partners and stakeholders in planning and developing this recruitment approach. This includes, ExCo, Group Resource Panels, Heads of Operation, HR Business Partner Teams, HR Expert Services, HR Shared Service Centre, Finance, Legal Services, TUS, Outreach Team, Welsh Language Team, Equality in the Workplace Team, External and Internal Communications Teams. These stakeholders have helped determine the scale of the campaign, the priority, the design, the costs, the impact, compliance/governance and process.

Involvement

The internal deployment of existing staff and the external recruitment programme will enable teams across WG to have additional and/or refocussed resources to help them deliver on Ministerial commitments. Each Group in Welsh Government has been fully engaged in order for them to identify what their key priority areas/posts are for resourcing. It is these posts which ExCo has prioritised and agreed for recruitment. ExCo and Groups are also being engaged on the methods proposed to resource these areas.

It is also important to TS-G7 employees that external recruitment routes into Welsh Government via this recruitment campaign are not easier than the internal progression Assessment Gateways. TUS has been consulted to ensure these views are considered and the recruitment programme will ensure that the assessment methods used for external candidates are comparable to those used in Assessment Gateways (for the FTA/Secondment schemes). The FTA/Secondment scheme will also be a Fair, Open and on Merit recruitment.

It is vital that this scheme is also used to help the organisation on its journey to achieving its Equality and Diversity targets. As such the Equality in the Workplace team and Outreach team are fully engaged in the development of the external recruitment campaign materials to ensure the advertising and recruitment process is as inclusive and attractive as possible to groups which are underrepresented in Welsh Government.

Welsh Language team are also fully engaged to advise on compliance with Welsh Language Standards and help navigate the recruitment team through difficulties such as a lack of availability of welsh language online assessments.

In addition to the 5 ways of working above, consideration has been given to the following areas:

Impact

The main arguments in favour of the proposal are that:

  • Responding to the impact of EU Transition and the Corona Virus has demonstrated Welsh Government needs more people resource with core Civil Service skills. There are also gaps in specialisms, particularly within Health, which urgently need addressing through external recruitment as the skills are not available internally.
  • This scheme will enable under resourced teams, delivering on critical priorities, to be appropriately resourced. This will hopefully enable existing team members to achieve better work life balance/wellbeing.
  • Due to high satisfaction rates and a moratorium on most non-specialist external recruitment, Welsh Government is a static organisation. External recruitment offers an opportunity to increase the diversity of Welsh Government employees and bring fresh ideas and new perspectives into the organisation.
  • At a time when unemployment in Wales in rising, this offers an ideal opportunity of employment and developing new skills for people in Wales.
  • By funding this increase in resource through programme funding and temporary contracts - which have a potential to convert to permanency at a later date if required/affordable - the Welsh Government can ensure the recruitment programme is financially sound and sustainable.

The main arguments against of the proposal are that:

  • Full ‘Fair, Open and on Merit’ recruitment which is comparable to the internal Assessment Gateways assessment methodology can take a significant amount of time to design and deliver. This risks the majority of the new resource not being in post, or being very new in post, during times of peak pressure in the business.
  • There will be costs involved in procuring externally developed tests for the external FTA/Secondee recruitment exercise and in funding a targeted advertising campaign through Golley Slater. 
  • It are not able to include a Welsh language option for online tests as to date. It appears that none exist at the required standard. However, the tests are essential in order to ensure the campaign is comparable with internal Assessment Gateways and can cope with the high numbers of applications expected. The tests also need to be supplied from an organisation that ensures they are equality impact assessed and accessible, which limits the options of where to source the tests from. When recruiting bilingual colleagues we do need to test their English language skills if their interview is undertaken through the medium of Welsh – the online test/s may therefore provide the assurance of English language ability. However, we are working in partnership with the Welsh Language Team to determine how best to move forward on this issue in line with the Welsh Language Standards.
  • A comprehensive outreach programme will provide WG with the best opportunity of recruiting a more diverse workforce it will also however, if successful, considerably increase the number of applications received. This is turn will potentially increase the amount of time it takes to recruit and fill priority posts.

Costs and savings

Resource costs

In order to deliver the 3 strands of external recruitment activity, resource has been identified and redeployed from across HR to create the HR Transition Team. It has been recognised, however, that even with this redeployment and a reprioritisation of HR functions, the HR Transition team and the Shared Service Centre will need to bring in short term, temporary staff (either on Loan or via Agency contracts) to expand the team through peak times of activity. This will incur additional cost to the organisation, but it will be short term and funding will be drawn from the ‘on-costs’ being charged to external programme funded appointments (see below).

Recruitment costs

The external FTA/Secondee recruitment campaign will incur costs as the outreach/advertising programme will use Golley Slater in addition to the Welsh Governments internal/external Comms teams. Costs are yet to be agreed/confirmed but current estimations are in the region of £7000.

There will also be a cost when purchasing tests/online assessments for external FTA/Secondee candidates, it is anticipated that the organisation used to provide the tests will be Civil Service Resourcing. Cost yet to be agreed/confirmed and will be highly dependent on the number of applications as we will pay per test per applicant. Estimations of 500-1500 applicants per scheme could result in costs of between £17,000- £52,000 as an example.

Funding

Given the continued pressure on Departmental Running Costs (DRC), it has been agreed that the funding for all of the externally filled priority posts must be Programme (unless by exception). The allocation of Programme funding for resourcing must be agreed by the relevant Minister and ensure that the overall MEG can cover the full salary of the appointment and the associated on-costs (e.g. IT hardware/Software, Facilities, HR support functions). It will also be used to fund the recruitment campaigns where needed/approved.

Savings

The use of programme budgets to fund the external recruitments will save on DRC expenditure. Also efficiencies can be realised by running a small number of large external recruitment schemes as opposed to over 200+ individual external campaigns.

Mechanism

Legislation is not required so a regulatory impact assessment is not required.

Section 7: Conclusion

How have people most likely to be affected by the proposal been involved in developing it?

As this recruitment campaign is to fill critical posts within Welsh Government, the main engagement and consultation undertaken is with internal stakeholders.
   
A full list of internal stakeholders can be found in section one. They will provide advice, guidance, approval and assistance in developing and delivering the end to end external recruitment campaigns.

The Equality in the Workplace team will review all external communications, guidance documentation and outreach plans before the launch of the FTA/Secondment external recruitment campaign to ensure it is as open and inclusive as possible.

The outreach team will target networks - with representatives from groups with protected characteristics - with ‘pre-advert’s’/’advert communications’ for the OGD/Inward Loan and the FTA/Secondment campaign, to encourage applications from a diverse field of candidates. 

Golley Slater will be engaged specifically for the FTA/Secondment recruitment campaign, to provide expert advice on which media to use to target the widest field of candidates possible.

The Welsh Language Division will consider and advise upon the projects compliance with Welsh Language Standards.  

Civil Service Resourcing will provide the online tests and testing platform which will form a key part to the external FTA/Secondment adverts. This supplier will meet Government accessibility requirements and, in doing so, will be meeting accessibility regulations that apply to public sector websites.

7.1 What are the most significant impacts, positive and negative?

This recruitment campaign will positively impact the ability of Welsh Government to deliver on Ministerial priorities by providing essential resources, across a range of grades and skills, to key priority areas in the organisation. It will also provide employment opportunities to a wide range of people with generalist or specialist skills, within or outside of the civil service, employed or unemployed, across Wales and further afield.

7.3 In light of the impacts identified, how will the proposal:

  • maximise contribution to our well-being objectives and the 7 well-being goals;  and/or,
  • avoid, reduce or mitigate any negative impacts?

Section 1, along with the Equality Impact Assessment and the Welsh Language Impact Assessment at Section E refer (Impact Assessments can be provided on request).

7.4 How will the impact of the proposal be monitored and evaluated as it progresses and when it concludes?

Regular reports/updates and Equality Diversity Management Information monitoring will be provided to ExCo and the Equality in the Workplace Team as the recruitment campaign progresses.

In addition, a communication plan will deliver updates at significant milestones to key stakeholders (ExCo, Group Resourcing Panels, and TUS etc.) and for internal staff impacted by the recruitment campaign.

A full lessons learnt exercise will follow the recruitment campaign to identify any missed opportunities and to ensure that the design of future campaigns run in this way will provide optimal results.

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