GDS Academy looks for new leader to oversee ‘transformation and expansion’

Current academy leader Sweeney reveals impending move to Australia, as skills and training organisation also lifts lid on plans to collaborate more with other governments

GDS headquarters in Whitechapel in London  Credit: Derwent London

The GDS Academy is looking for a new leader as it seeks to foster more collaboration with peers in other countries. 

The academy is currently recruiting for a head of operations. The role, which comes with a salary of up to £57,982, will require extensive travel between the training organisation’s four UK locations in London, Manchester, Leeds, and Newcastle. Applications are open until 1 January.

The successful candidate, who will report to GDS’s deputy director of learning and development, will have overall responsibility for managing the GDS Academy, and will oversee a period of growth and development. 

The academy was created by the Department for Work and Pensions in 2014 and, earlier this year, was rehoused in GDS, as part of plans to expand and offer training to 3,000 civil servants each year. The organisation offers training for existing Whitehall digital, data, and technology (DDaT) professionals wishing to acquire new skills and advance their career, as well as staff from other disciplines who want to embed digital into their current work, or are considering a switch into the DDaT profession.

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It currently offers classroom-based training in the four UK cities where it has offices. GDS said the new academy lead will be required to ensure these services are maintained, and will also “need to manage a transformation and expansion of the academy”.

“You will work with Civil Service Learning, other government departments, and third-party providers to commission, co-ordinate and curate content,” GDS said. “You will support communities to develop intelligent skills and capability assessments in their workforce plans to get the right people, in the right place, at the right time.”

GDS added: “This is a high-visibility role, with capability being one of the flagship areas of the Government Transformation Strategy.”

The successful applicant will replace current academy head Annette Sweeney, who announced in a blog that she “will be moving across to Australia in spring 2018”, where she will work with the Australian government in helping to build its digital skills proposition.

This move follows a year in which the GDS Academy has welcomed representatives from the Canadian and Australian government. Sweeney said that the academy wishes to build on this work in the coming months.

“It’s rewarding to be able to work collaboratively with other countries – helping to draw inspiration from each other and further improve the learning and development offer in digital,” she said. “We’ve learned that we will often encounter similar challenges on our journey, but by working closely with our international colleagues we can help to not only solve them for the UK, but internationally too.

Sweeney added: “The GDS Academy is continuing to review its offer to ensure that it has the best possible training available for leaders within the public sector. As we expand nationwide, we’re also progressing our discovery phase to ensure that our future curriculum meets the needs of the civil service as a whole. We would love to hear more from other governments as they build their own learning and development programmes.”


Sam Trendall

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