The Ministry of Defence’s HR chief has echoed calls from his Whitehall peers to make the public sector HR function smaller, more professional and better skilled.
In an interview with Personnel Today, Jonathan Evans, the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) HR director, predicted challenging times ahead and said there would be “lots of change” for HR departments in the coming years.
He said: “I think the HR function will change. There is work to be done in reskilling, upskilling, management of change, consultative skills – where HR helps the business come up with business solutions – real business acumen and focus.”
But Evans insisted the HR community had the skills and experience necessary to handle the level of change.
He claimed the sector had benefited from the recruitment of private sector HR professionals into the civil service in recent years.
“There’s been, over recent years, a large influx of people into senior HR roles from outside the civil service,” he told Personnel Today.
“Those people come from a variety of backgrounds and bring with them a lot of experience. That experience can be shared across the civil service to handle those sorts of things. I’m not as concerned as some doom-sayers. There won’t be a need for a massive amount [of external consultants].”
Evans predicts that the HR function will become smaller. “It will continue to professionalise and pick up many of the skills that have been around in the private sector for some time,” he said.
“I think the function will try and work in more coherent way. Rather than every local authority and civil service having its own specialist team, [there might be] centres of expertise that people can draw on.”
Earlier this year, Chris Last, director-general of HR at the Department for Work and Pensions unveiled plans to cut up to one-third of jobs from his HR team in a bid to reduce costs.
Last admitted that the function was over-staffed, and said he would axe up to 800 posts from the 2,500 strong HR team by 2012.
Evans pointed out that his HR function would become smaller but ruled out job cuts in favour of redeployment.
Evans said: “HR functions will become smaller. There’s a big push in the public sector to remove people from the back office and the MoD is no exception to that. There are people who are pretty skilled in a whole range of areas that could move to other areas of the MoD.”
- Jonathan Evans, HR director at the MOD, is responsible for defence, equipment and support (DES).
- The DES has a workforce of 20,000 people and an HR team of 200.
- It uses the same shared services model as the whole MoD, which provides all transactional and operational HR.