DH recruits ‘self-starting’ ambassadors for next cohort of digital champions

The Department of Health has stopped making it compulsory for all its divisions to have digital champions.

These ambassadors aim to spoil civil servants with digital skills – Photo credit: Flickr, Wasif Ali

Announcing the relaunch of the scheme, which aims to improve digital skills among civil servants, DH said that this year – unlike previous rounds – it had not required every team in the department to have a champion.

“We want motivated self-starters, not individuals pushed into it by a line manager under pressure to fill a quota,” the department said. “So this year all of our champions are volunteers.”

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Despite this, the department said it had still got a representative in every division and that there was a broad coverage of all the different roles in the department.

According to a blogpost published on 14 June, 35% of the digital champions in the network are policy staff, 21% administration, 9% operational, 8% finance and 5% project management.

DH also said that, although its mission to drive up basic skills wasn’t quite complete, this year it had shifted focus “to putting expert capability where it’s most needed”.

“We need our new cohort of champions to be motivated, self-driven staff, keen to develop their own skills digital awareness, whilst acting as true ambassadors for digital ways of working,” the post said.

The department held an induction event to make the champions visible for others in the department, which included talks about what digital is and how an internet culture had changed the public’s expectations around interacting with government.

A recent study carried out by PublicTechnology’s sister organisation found that awareness of the government’s plans for digital was low among the civil service.

Less than half of the 2,101 respondents to the survey said that they felt digital inclusion was being managed properly for staff and just 7% said they were very confident in the government’s plans.

However, many of those who said they were confident with digital, cited interaction with digital champions as a reason for this confidence.


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