UKHSA Advisory Board: UKHSA workforce status – GOV.UK

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Updated 23 January 2023

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Date: Tuesday 24 January 2023
Sponsor: Jac Gardner, Chief People Officer
Presenter: Jac Gardner
At the previous Advisory Board meeting a number of workforce challenges were presented: a ramp down in the overall size of the agency since March 2022 by 40% in line with a reduction in coronavirus (COVID-19) funding (60% reduction in workforce overall from the peak of the pandemic); building our future organisation by recruiting to core roles; and as a consequence of both of these actions, changing the composition of our workforce to comprise mainly of permanent civil servants and reduce the reliance on, and cost of, temporary or contingent labour.
The Board acknowledged the significant amount of organisational change and the recruitment challenges we face. From a capacity perspective, we advised that we were preparing to outsource new recruitment campaigns in order to resource the business as quickly as possible.
In addition, we have been working with Finance to understand the budget implications of our workforce, ensuring that our planned headcount by group is consistent with the budget forecast for year end and into the 2023/2024 financial year.
The purpose of the paper is to provide an update on the UKHSA workforce, it being critical to the delivery of our core services and budget commitments.
The Advisory Board is asked to:
We have achieved good progress on resizing our workforce:
To complete our workforce changes, we remain focused on recruitment to permanent roles that are currently filled by fixed term contracts, loans and contingent labour. At the last Advisory Board meeting, we reported on the plans to outsource recruitment. These plans are now operational, with 270 roles live from November across Science, Data Analytics and Surveillance, Health Protection Operations and People groups. Initial feedback has been positive, not only on the service provided by our outsourcing provider but also on the improvement our internal teams have been able to achieve in clearing the recruitment backlog. We will receive regular management information from our outsourced provider, helping us gain valuable insight into our ability to attract and recruit.
As we enter the last quarter of our current fiscal year and into a new one, having budget certainty remains a critical feature in being able to build and maintain our future workforce. A key recommendation for the financial year 2023/2024 business planning and budgeting process is that we agree a ‘headcount establishment’ for each group that aligns to the pay budget to help us manage our recruitment and workforce planning with our costs in a more integrated way.
We also need to turn our attention to strategic workforce planning (see appendix slide 4), in particular how we:
Data Analytics and Surveillance (DAS) and Scientific roles are skill areas that we find particularly difficult to recruit to, one of the key reasons being our ability to compete in the market on pay. DAS had already been identified as a critical skill across Civil Service and a Digital, Data and Technology (DDAT) framework to reflect skills and career progression and competitive reward has been established. We are currently developing a business case for our DAS roles that could be included in the DDAT framework, with the initial findings demonstrating an overall saving if we implemented the framework for civil service recruits rather than rely on more expensive consultants and contractors.
A similar framework for Scientific roles does not exist within the Civil Service but is critical; we will have to build it from scratch, and it is a priority piece of work for UKHSA in early 2023 in order to include in our broader reward considerations.
The Board is asked to note that details for a specific reward project, proposed to commence in early 2023, have been developed and will be presented to the People and Culture Committee’s January meeting for comment.
Progress has been made in building our future workforce, although there is still work to do.
It is proposed that the Advisory Board receives a final workforce update following the end of the current financial year.
Jac Gardner
Chief People Officer
January 2023
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