Guido-Tom Watson consensus on gov jobs?

One senses there’s not a lot of love between Guido Fawkes and Tom Watson. So it’s all the more remarkable that, within a few days, they’ve effectively reached an identical conclusion on the need for a better approach to public sector job advertising.
A week ago, Tom wrote a blog post noting the lack of a consistent approach on publishing job vacancies. I was one of several people to respond by noting that (in theory at least) there is actually a central website for all job vacancies already. Mind you, if only us insiders know, then it may as well not exist. Questions like this don’t get asked without a reason, so hopefully it’s the start of something significant.
Now this morning, Guido Fawkes has published details of his plan to bankrupt the Guardian, part of which is this:

One of the first thing the Tories should do in power is set up All available public sector positions would be listed there free of charge, this would save hundreds of millions in advertising costs for the taxpayer and deprive the Guardian of a critical revenue stream.

Aw, isn’t it sweet? Next thing you know, they’ll be playing football between the trenches. 🙂
The central website has been around since 2003 (at least), and in 2004 I was talking to them about the idea of ‘saved searches’ as RSS feeds. Departments could enter their results into the central database, then power a ‘current vacancies’ list on their own corporate website using the RSS feed. At the time, I only knew of one website offering such a service (Wired): it would have been cutting-edge. Now it’s a feature of many websites – TheyWorkForYou, BBC – and the RSS-processing part is almost embarrassingly easy. That’s before we get on to things like plotting vacancies on Google Maps…
Perhaps it’s an idea whose time has finally come. With the existing site basically unchanged in 5 years, it’s easy to justify a refresh. There are plenty of recruitment sites out there, from which to draw inspiration. There will be benefits in terms of customer service, staff efficiency, and defining best practice. We need concrete examples to show Whitehall that yes, it can be done.

2 thoughts on “Guido-Tom Watson consensus on gov jobs?”

  1. Not sure it is “my plan” to bankrupt the Guardian, it is an amusing aspiration.
    To be fair, George Osborne said this in December 2006:
    Osborne unveils e-Recruitment strategy to save taxpayers over £700m
    Shadow Chancellor George Osborne today unveils Conservative Party proposals to cut the cost of recruitment advertising across government and save up to £700m a year.
    Under a Conservative Government, Whitehall departments and quangos would in future advertise vacancies online. Local government would be strongly encouraged to follow suit.
    Research by Reed Personnel Services highlights how this could save taxpayers up to £700m a year.
    Commenting George Osborne said today:
    “It is astonishing just how out of date the Government is. These figures show that simply by using the web to advertise public sector jobs, the Government could save up to £700 million.
    “It is just one example of how we will improve value for money across Whitehall, and bring it up to date with the modern business and technology practices of the 21st century.”
    Notes to Editors
    * All recruitment advertising should be online, except where there are justifiable concerns about ensuring fair access for a specific vacancy.
    Unlike the private sector, which takes much greater advantage of online advertising, government bodies are still largely reliant on expensive printed adverts in newspapers and specialist publications.
    This makes a huge difference to the cost. For example, the Guardian Society jobs section charges £2500 for a small advert and £3600 for a slightly larger advert. This week’s Society supplement contains over 100 public sector job adverts.
    * According to Reed Personnel Services, £800m of taxpayers’ money is being spent each year on public sector job adverts, compared to £390m in the private sector, despite the fact that the private sector employs four fifths of the workforce.
    The potential saving of around £700m is enough to pay for 35,000 new nurses, 30,000 new teachers, 25,000 new policemen or 30,000 new soldiers.
    * Research from Reed Personnel Services has shown that this website would cost approximately £5m a year to operate – saving taxpayers almost £800m.
    In a recent Parliamentary debate, it was revealed that 18% of teaching posts – about 70,000 posts – change hands every year, and that the cost to a secondary school of advertising just 18 vacancies through the TES was £30,000. If this figure is taken to be constant across the public sector, it suggests that £100m of taxpayers’ money is spent on advertising teaching vacancies alone.

  2. Thanks Guido. (Slightly weird that I can’t find that press release on has already been registered, incidentally: by Job Centre Plus. But it isn’t currently pointing anywhere. I’d have thought it would make sense to at least point it to their main site, or even better, to a pre-configured search for government jobs on the site.
    (I’ve never actually done a search on JCP until just now. For the #1 website in government, it’s nowhere near as slick as I’d expected.)

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