The government’s Brexit department is hiring a glut of new staff - but has come under fire for failing to include knowledge of the EU in its job specifications.
The Department for Exiting the European Union (DExEU) wants to recruit a team of policy advisers, a senior internal communications officer and an executive assistant.
Also advertised is a deputy director position within the EU Exit section of the Government Digital Service, a branch of the Cabinet Office.
According to the job descriptions, hopefuls do not need any previous experience or knowledge of the EU or to speak other languages - but the department says it would “welcome applications from candidates with a background in management consultancy”.
According to a report released late last year, civil servants are quitting DExEU four times faster than the average rate and are the most over-worked in government.
As of December, 140 key roles remained unfilled as the UK prepared to enter crucial second-stage negotiations with EU chiefs.
Tom Brake, the Lib Dems’ Brexit spokesperson, told HuffPost UK: “The Tories face a nearly insurmountable task ahead of them.
“This is the biggest challenge faced by the UK in the modern era, yet they haven’t set aside the resources to bring in the talent and experience necessary.
“Not only are they not hiring the right people, but due to mismanagement, those they’ve got are already handing in their notices.
“Perhaps things would be going better for them if they hired those with a grasp of foreign languages and an understanding of the workings of the EU.
“Instead, we are left with an entire government department seemingly winging it.”
Since it was set up, DExEU has grown from a staff of 100 to more than 600, but lost workers at a rate of 9% per quarter - and faces a massively increased workload in 2018.
Jill Rutter, of the Institute for Government, said the rate of churn would make it hard for the department “to build up institutional knowledge and memory”.
Blogging for the IFG, she added: “High turnover is a feature of young departments and the median age at DExEU is just 31 (similar to the Treasury).
“DExEU also has a very high proportion of Fast Stream civil servants, whose career development assumes they move every six months.
“Nonetheless this degree of churn in the department at the forefront of coordinating the complicated task of leaving the EU should cause concern both within and outside the department.”
A government spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “Different roles within the department require different skills, as is the case in any large organisation.
“In many cases, experience in previous roles or a particular skill set are more important than an in-depth knowledge of how the EU functions.
“For example, the department has significant domestic responsibilities for implementation and preparedness which do not require detailed knowledge of the EU or its institutions.
“On staff turnover, this reflects the unique circumstances of the department and the majority of those who have left have moved on to other government departments because their loan or Fast Stream rotation ended. Very few have left the department to leave the civil service.
“We continue to attract the brightest and the best from Whitehall and the private sector, and have recruited a department of over 600 from scratch in a short space of time.”