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DCMS has undergone significant change over the last few years and has set a high bar for professionalism in HR. It employs 2,000 people and its team of 70 HR professionals plays a fundamental role in supporting an innovative, data-driven, modernised and diverse government department.

Sarah Tebbut

People in the HR profession at DCMS can expect investment in their development, support for qualifications and training, and interesting and stretching work. Together our ambition is for our HR function to be a centre of excellence. I'm very pleased that this commitment and people's commitment to their learning has been recognised by the CIPD awarding DCMS People Development Partner status.

Sarah Tebbut

People and Workplace Director, DCMS

Mel Collins

Some people don’t know what DCMS does because we’re not one of the bigger government departments. I think our PDP status will be good for attraction because people will see how much we care about their development, no matter where they are on their HR career journey.

Mel Collins

Deputy Director: HR Delivery and Strategic Partnering, DCMS

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) champions cultural and artistic heritage, helps businesses and communities grow by investing in innovation and promotes the UK on the global stage. It has a team of around 70 HR professionals overseen by its People and Workplace function, which also has responsibility for security and estates.

A modern and innovative government department calls for a high-performing central HR team

DCMS is a major economic department that has undergone significant change over the last few years. The Department’s policy responsibilities, delivery commitments and sectoral roles have grown substantially. As a result, the departmental structures and processes are transforming to ensure it can deliver its outcomes and commitments on time and maximise benefits to citizens. DCMS aspires to have a high-performing corporate centre to strategically support an innovative, data-driven, modernised and diverse Department.

DCMS recognised strong HR expertise as a fundamental requirement for the corporate centre and becoming a CIPD People Development Partner (PDP) was central to meeting these aims. It also wanted to increase the sophistication of its strategic workforce planning and position itself as an employer that really cares about the development of its HR team to better attract and retain talent.

Aligning the HR operating model with both Civil Service and CIPD standards

DCMS began the process by analysing its HR operating model, with the aim of aligning it with both Civil Service HR and CIPD standards. It is based on the ‘Ulrich HR model’ and includes a centre of expertise team that focuses on pivotal, Department-wide matters such as pay and reward and leadership development. A growing number of HR business partners provide strategic advice to different parts of this wide-ranging arm of government. The HR team made it their core priority to attract people with the capabilities to plug any skills gaps. For instance, they  introduced new roles, including pay specialists and senior HR Business Partners focused on workforce strategy, and they used apprenticeships to support succession and retention.

‘I developed a toolkit which incorporates both the Civil Service HR standards and the CIPD standards, so that people have one document where they can see how they are developing and what skills they need for their role,’ says Mel Collins, who as Deputy Director: HR Delivery and Strategic Partnering, heads the HR profession at DCMS.

Strengthening workforce planning and succession planning

Greater attention and resource has been devoted to workforce planning – including the recruitment of a strategic workforce planning lead (who also acts as HR business partner to a DCMS Director General), to work with the Strategic Finance and Corporate Strategy teams on crystallising future skills and capability requirements.

Aligned to this, there’s a big focus on succession planning. For the past three years, Level 5 apprenticeships have proven very effective at ‘getting some really great people on to the team who may not have got HR experience previously’. The apprenticeships have provided a vital pipeline for replacing people who have moved to roles in other government departments. DCMS also plans to introduce Level 7 apprenticeships later in 2021.

Although quite a high proportion of the HR people at DCMS are already CIPD members, the aim is to further increase membership through both the apprenticeship route and Experience Assessment.

A valuable badge of professionalism to attract and develop talent

‘We’ve found that by using the CIPD standards, people know what they’re expected to do, what learning and development they need and what else is necessary for keeping up to date with the HR Profession.  I’ve also been running HR Masterclasses to embed the standards and we've set a high bar for professional HR ’ says Mel.

The badge of professionalism conferred by PDP status will, Mel believes, prove to be a ‘valuable tool’ for bringing talent into the organisation. ‘Some people don’t know what DCMS does because we’re not one of the bigger government departments. I think our PDP status will be good for attraction because people will see how much we care about their development, no matter where they are on their HR career journey.’ 

An ongoing commitment to development

One aspect of the PDP relationship is a development scheme for HR business partners that involves extensive CIPD input. It was first launched in 2020 and the COVID-19 lockdown meant some of this work was put on hold, but the programme has restarted again following the easing of restrictions.

Going forward, DCMS intends to work closely with the CIPD on pay and reward. The intention is also to tap into and contribute to CIPD research and insight with a view to benefiting from external knowledge.

‘It’s very exciting to be a CIPD partner, I was over the moon when we were told we’d got it,’ says Mel.  ‘We see a lot of value in the PDP partnership. Because DCMS has grown considerably over the last few years, the team has had to grow as well. I think what we’ve done really well is make sure that we’ve kept that delivery pace up while boosting professionalism within the team.’

To find out more about becoming a CIPD People Development Partner, get in touch with the team by emailing ClientDevelopmentEnquiry@cipd.co.uk

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