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Internet Job Advertising

Volume 459: debated on Wednesday 18 April 2007

1. What advice her Department is issuing across Government on the greater use of the internet for advertising job opportunities in Government and Government activities. (131494)

It is important that we make optimum use of the internet in job advertising and other areas to maximise value for money for the taxpayer while at the same time ensuring access to information about job opportunities in Government for the one third of the population who do not use the internet. All Departments are instructed to advertise vacancies on the civil service jobs website, at http://www.careers.civil-service.gov.uk/ and also, where appropriate, on the Jobcentre Plus website. We recognise that civil service spending in this area is a small part of total public sector spending, but we are committed to making better use of the internet and reducing expenditure on press advertising. To that end, we expect to reduce the £1.3 million estimated spending on senior jobs in the six largest spending Departments by up to 80 per cent. over the next few months.

I am pleased by the Minister’s recognition of the dramatic increase in the use of the internet. Can he get a sense of urgency into Departments so that they use the internet to a much greater extent, not only for job advertising but also for public notices about Government activity? Will he spread that practice to other publicly funded bodies, not least local government?

I agree with my right hon. Friend that more could be done both nationally and locally, and my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and I will shortly be meeting the First Civil Service Commissioner and the Commissioner for Public Appointments to see what more can be done. Some moves are already being made to have more generic press advertising, with signposting to appropriate websites. Some aspects of local notices are governed by legislation, but our priority throughout will be to maximise value for money for the taxpayer, to make the best use of the technology available and ensure proper access for everyone to information about Government jobs.

Literally thousands of job ads pour out by e-mail from the Government Communication Network, many of which are readvertisements for what seem to be challenging roles that are sometimes difficult to fill, such as the head of external communications at the Rural Payments Agency, who has the seemingly difficult role of

“improving customer communication and stakeholder engagement”.

I also saw a vacancy for “communisation” at the Identity and Passport Service. I have to—

I think the hon. Gentleman was trying to make a point about the type of job available. Our concern in this question is to ensure that whatever type of job is advertised we make proper use of the technology and that we also cater for those who do not have access to the internet. By combining both things we can improve value for money and still do the right job in advertising Government posts.

Next week, Sir Alistair Graham stands down as chairman of the Committee on Standards in Public Life. Have we advertised for a replacement yet and if not, why not?

I shall endeavour to find out for my hon. Friend the Member for Pendle (Mr. Prentice) exactly what the position is with regard to that job. If he is interested, I am sure he will be a strong candidate.