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UK government starts recruiting digital experts for Brexit

Department for International Trade advertises job for digital designer to support future trade arrangements

The UK government has started recruiting digital experts to support plans for leaving the European Union (EU).

A job advert posted on the civil service recruitment website is looking for a digital design lead at the Department for International Trade. The role involves designing and delivering a digital platform for the Trade Remedies Organisation, a new body that will help enforce World Trade Organisation rules and issues related to other trade agreements that the UK sets up after Brexit.

“This post will be responsible for ensuring that the new digital platform for the Trade Remedies Organisation is designed in a way that enables it to deliver the original policy objectives for this new system with support from a team of specialist consultants,” said the job advert.

“This will involve learning lessons from the way other countries design and operate their trade remedies systems, and will require the role holder to work collaboratively with the policy team who will be finalising the policy and legislative framework for the new system as the Trade Bill moves through Parliament.”

The job comes with a salary of £48,483 to £56,370.

Chancellor Philip Hammond said in June that Brexit would “almost certainly involve the deployment of new technology”. New or redeveloped systems are likely to be needed not only in new departments such as International Trade, but also in existing areas such as customs and immigration.

In March, a National Audit Office (NAO) report highlighted a digital skills gap in the UK civil service, which means the government needs an extra 2,000 digital staff within five years, costing up to £244m a year.

More recently, Government Digital Service (GDS) director general Kevin Cunnington told an IT suppliers event last month that as many as 4,000 digital jobs need to be filled across Whitehall.

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That number may yet rise as government departments assess their own Brexit needs. Cunnington also told delegates at the event that GDS is working with Whitehall departments to assess their digital requirements in the light of Brexit negotiations.

He acknowledged that everything GDS is currently planning to work on may have to be rescoped and reprioritised as the results of Brexit planning become clearer.

The head of the NAO, Amyas Morse, said last year that the civil service had a “digital capability gap” that would cost hundreds of millions of pounds to address.

Morse called on the government to cut back on the number of major projects and to prioritise those that need to be completed – especially with the extra workload ahead from negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU.

“If we are over-committed, we need to lighten the load – and that means stopping doing things,” he said at the time. “This can be done by not adding projects, or by cancelling existing ones.”

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