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DWP Digital launches Birmingham hub

The new space will aim to create 130 jobs and tap into the digital talent pool of the West Midlands

DWP Digital has announced the launch of a hub in Birmingham, with the objective of tapping into the local knowledge base and supporting the department’s internal skills pool to support major IT programmes.

According to the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the new location will create 130 new positions. The first recruitment wave will focus on roles such as delivery and product managers, technical leads and business analysts.

In addition, the DWP Digital hub will aim to recruit user researchers, interaction designers, content designers, developers, DevOps engineers, service designers, QA testers and performance analysts.

“When it was announced the Department for Work and Pensions was going to expand its hub network, we were excited to see which locations would be selected,” said Mohammed Din, deputy director at DWP Digital. “While it was a difficult choice to pick one, it was felt that Birmingham, with its central location and surrounding area, was an ideal place to attract the digital professionals required to join us and help us to deliver our goals.”

The hub is located at the new Arena Central development, which is a short walk from Birmingham New Street Station. According to DWP, the office has been designed “with collaboration in mind”, with a modern setup that includes a combination of desks, as well as breakout and meeting areas.

While tapping into the West Midlands talent pool, the hub is expected to boost the DWP Digital staff with “flexible, multi-disciplinary squads”, which will be supporting projects such as Health Transformation and Universal Credit.

“We are looking for highly flexible professionals who are looking for their next career move to continue the government digital agenda and make a sustainable contribution to delivering digital services to those who most need it in our society,” the deputy director at DWP Digital said.

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The new location is the seventh hub location launched by DWP Digital in the UK. Other hubs have been previously launched in Blackpool, Leeds, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.

The announcement of the new hub underpins DWP’s acceleration on the digital transformation front. Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the department has experienced a spike in demand for services including Universal Credit. A few months into the pandemic, the DWP reported thousands of IT changes made in its systems as a result of the crisis.

In an interview with Computer Weekly in 2021, DWP chief digital and information officer, Simon McKinnon, talked about the spike in usage of DWP’s online services, and noted the process provided a couple of lessons to his department. “The first one has been that demand for digital services is high, and that the propensity of some people, particularly those on pensions credit, to use digital services was probably higher than they thought.

“It’s also taught us something internally about the value and opportunity that comes from digitising our services, and that’s why we have ambitious plans to move forward on that automation journey,” he said.

Moving a largely office-based organisation to work remotely was another major event for the department since the start of the pandemic. “We had to do some pretty challenging things to increase our capacity to work from home, but also to get PCs to people. We’ve rolled out over 80,000 PCs to people’s homes,” said McKinnon.

When it comes to new ways of working, DWP Digital had already predicted the department would be more flexible. Back in 2020, Craig Eblett, digital delivery director at DWP Digital, said this would mean positive changes in the ways the department works, not just more working from home.

“We’re not abandoning our digital hubs,” he said at the time. “We still believe in teams being an essential part of our delivery model and our teams still need a place to collaborate. However, we now have a fresh opportunity to work out what space we need for our teams in the future.”

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