The States communications team will soon number up to 34 people - meaning the island’s government will have more comms staff than paramedics, fire crew commanders or Police Inspectors. It will be around three times larger than the entire External Relations team, which is handling Brexit.
Following a £6,000 recruitment campaign, 119 people tendered their CVs for the new roles.
Spearheaded by one of the four ‘interim consultants brought in by new Chief Executive Charlie Parker, former Labour Party adviser Stephen Hardwick, it is hoped that, once fully formed, the new team will improve the way the government communicates with the public.
To do that, over £400,000 has already been injected into the operation – much of which will cover the cost of recruiting fresh blood spanning management, media liaison, internal communications with the States’ 6,000 staff, and design.
Once all posts are filled, the team could be up to 34 people. Overall, the scale of the department will be comparable in size to the States Greffe – the body responsible for drafting legislation and providing administrative support to politicians – but nearly three times larger than the entire External Relations Department team, which is responsible for managing Brexit risks.
A States spokesperson told Express that the final size of the new team, which they said would include around 11 more people than at present and would be similar to local governments in the UK, would primarily depend on the amount of graphic designers and digital communications officers needed “to bring capability in house that we’re currently paying for via agencies.”
Recruitment for roles within the self-dubbed ‘Team Jersey Comms’ began several weeks ago, with 13 roles being sought in total to help create “a compelling narrative to explain what’s changing” as Charlie Parker’s ambitious government reform plans are implemented.
That process closed last month, drawing in 119 applications in total – just four of which were from “people not entitled to work in Jersey.” A States official said that the department had no employment licences at their disposal but would apply for them if needed. They added: “We are aiming to recruit from within Jersey and will only look further afield if necessary.”
But a source within the island’s PR industry expressed doubt that all positions would be able to be filled with local talent, stating that companies within the sector already find it difficult to recruit for single roles due to the lack of suitably qualified people already residing on the island.
Pictured: A spokesperson said they aimed to fulfil all roles with Jersey applicants.
With each role described as “permanent” within the job descriptions, it is unclear what residential and housing rights would be afforded to anyone recruited from outside Jersey and how this would fit into the island’s population policy. When asked for clarity on this by Express, the States did not provide an answer.
Overall, the recruitment campaign cost £5,897, including expenditure on:
Advertising within the printed press and online;
A campaign website set up by recruitment marketing agency, TMP;
And targeted social media advertising on LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Google Display Network to drive people to the web page
The recruitment drive comes following the departures of some long-term communications workers following the appointment of Mr Hardwick.
Sources within the States told Express of a tighter new regime under the £100,000+ employee, who recently launched a probe into whether senior officials had been leaking information to the media involving a detailed search of their work emails.
Contacted by Express, the States would not confirm or deny the investigation or the nature of the alleged breach(es), but simply stated: “It is not best practice for organisations to disclose whether or not an internal disciplinary investigation is underway. Many such investigations result in no action, and any action taken is part of a confidential disciplinary process. Furthermore, we do not comment on supposed leaks.”
While they declined to comment, Mr Hardwick’s boss, States Chief Mr Parker, had previously warned in his first ever meeting with his senior colleagues: “I deplore gossip and leaks.”
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