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Sharing recruitment - across the web

Source: Public Sector Executive Sept/Oct 2012

PSE talks to Rebecca Davis, head of organisational development at West Midlands Councils, about the decision of 28 public sector organisations in the region to share their recruitment services.

When applied to the right problem, digitallybased shared services can have a huge impact.

That’s certainly what West Midlands Councils has been finding with the recruitment services it runs on behalf of local authorities and other public sector bodies in the region, as its head of organisational development, Rebecca Davis, told PSE: “We are seeing real rewards, both in terms of service improvements to recruitment and talent management, and clear efficiency savings as a result of the technology we’ve introduced.

“It’s quite groundbreaking in terms of the steps local authorities have taken to harmonise and work together on a single recruitment platform.”

The service offered is a “complete online recruitment system”, she said, with an online ‘jobs board’ at its core at

Across the 28 organisations using the service, the most recent statistics across a 12-month period show £1.7m in cashable savings. Some organisations had particular success: Coventry City Council, for example, made a net saving of £300,000 last year.

Davis explained: “This has seen local authorities moving away from maintaining their own internal jobs board and jobs site, reducing the need for external advertising.

“If you looked at the public sector some six or seven years ago, it was 90% paper application, it was very standardised, with the same questions asked for every post.

“There has been a complete shift. 95% of it is now done using online forms, and recruitment is now about competency-based questions specific to that job. There’s a whole raft of other tools and techniques we’ve used to make sure that the best talent is been attracted into the local authorities and the West Midlands.

“The service is managed by the team here at West Midlands Councils on behalf of the local authorities. We provide a complete management service through our partner organisation, Lumesse, who provide the technology.”

Online tools

The team also offers complete online CRB checking, online psychometric profiling, and an integration with individual authorities’ HR systems to ensure a seamless flow of data.

Davis characterised the change as from a process-driven paper-pushing service at many councils, to a results-orientated commercial type service now.

She said: “Organisations now are able to offer these recruitment services using this platform of technology at commercial rates to schools, academies, to other smaller public sector and voluntary organisations in their localities.”

The service launched with only 12 organisations signed up but others “came on board very quickly”, Davis said. “The cost is significantly lower than anything they could secure individually: we are about 85% cheaper than what they would pay through individual contracts. Not to mention the time saved through not needing to research, implement, develop and set up a system themselves, all of the work is done for them.”


Of 33 local authorities and five fire & rescue services in the West Midlands, 28 are signed up to the system – others may come on board when their existing contracts expire.

The system can be tailored to recruit the most senior executive posts. Davis explained: “We can offer bespoke online micro-sites, which can be delivered and built in-house to a very high standard enabling organisations to promote those roles and go into greater depth about what they might expect from the candidate, plus the reward package on offer. Sitting behind that we offer a complete online application system so they can choose to perhaps accept CV uploads or they might accept different kinds of application approaches more appropriate to a senior role.

“We’re also able to set up talent pools; so for example if we were looking at recruiting more associate-based consultants or interims, organisations can capture data from either previous applicants to roles or for individuals to capture more of a register of vested parties which they could use. I think that reflects the way the nature of employment within the public sector is changing: it’s not necessarily long-term contracts any more.

“The key to this system is that it doesn’t do the recruiters’ job for them, it actually helps them become better recruiters by giving them the tools to do their job more quickly and efficiently.”


Efforts to avoid compulsory redundancies at local authorities – and the associated costs – mean there is also high demand for the redeployment portal run by the same team.

“Individuals within those organisations who are placed at risk are able to access the redeployment portal and jobs are posted to that redeployment portal first. There’s a skills match of those which are suitable for that post and they can chose to apply for that post.

“We’re giving ‘redeployees’ in the region a firstrate candidate experience, comparable to an external candidate applying for a role – they’re treated with the same level of service.”

Staffordshire County Council has saved around £1.2m through savings on redundancy and redeployment, Davis said.

Asked to compare the situation in the West Midlands with that in other regions, Davis told us: “We are definitely in a more unique position in that our organisations are using a service that is a complete shared service.

A lot of other regions have shared jobs board but I think we’re definitely more advanced in how integrated our partners are with the service. “It gives a really positive perspective of the public sector; that it’s a very competitive and very innovative sector.”

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