Head of Futures Advice – Department for International Development – Darlington

Department for International Development

Job summary


The Government Office for Science works at the heart of Government, ensuring policies and decisions are informed by the best scientific evidence and strategic long-term thinking. It’s an exciting time to join the organisation; we have outstanding and high-profile positions providing you an opportunity to inform and influence policy-making and the systems for use of science and engineering across government. If you are highly motivated and looking for your next career challenge we want to hear from you.

Our mission is:

Science advice mechanisms that are efficient, effective, speak truth to power and are embedded irreversibly in Government systems.

Visible impact through both pro-active and demand-led science advice that is relevant, excellent, and delivered fit for purpose.

Our values are:

Collaboration – We draw on the experience, skills and knowledge of individuals and partners to reach goals.

Kindness – We are always inclusive, respectful, and compassionate. We look out for one another on work related and non-work-related matters where appropriate.

Openness – We are curious and always open-minded to new ideas, ways of working and points of view, irrelevant of how unconventional they might seem or who suggests them.

Integrity – We commit to upholding the civil service value of integrity by remaining moral, honest, and transparent. We always strive to do the right thing.

Further information can be found here.

We strongly believe diversity of experience, thought, perspectives, skills, and background makes us a more innovative, welcoming Department, thus making better decisions and better delivering our objectives. We are actively seeking applications from every part of the community and particularly welcome applications from candidates of any age, background, disability, or from an ethnic minority background and any other protected characteristics. This will help us move to a workforce that reflects the people we serve to deliver better policies.

We are a friendly, inclusive team and emphasise personal development. We will ensure individuals with disabilities are provided adjustments to participate in the job application and interview process. We support your wellbeing by putting flexible working at the heart of our offer, if successful, you will be able to discuss working arrangements with your new manager.

We maintain an internal surge capability of staff who may be called at short notice to support an activation of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (SAGE). Training and support will be provided. This is an excellent opportunity to develop crisis management skills.

Job description

This is an exciting and varied position leading the development of government’s use of futures and foresight techniques. The successful candidate will play a significant role in improving national policies that will ultimately support wellbeing, boost the economy and protect national security.

This role is for a specialist Futures adviser to provide advice and support to government organisations to use futures thinking and techniques to develop strategies and policies. The role leads the advice function in the wider Futures Team in GO Science, which works to ensure government is able to respond effectively to future challenges and opportunities. You will work closely with senior colleagues in Cabinet Office, BEIS, HMT and other departments to help them get real value from futures methods.

The role would provide a great platform to develop a career in government. You’ll build your profile across departments, contribute to new strategies and see first-hand how government makes policy. It’s a great place from which to put your knowledge of futures tools to good use – helping develop strategies and policies which are more resilient to the future.

We are a small, friendly team building government capability in futures approaches to help deliver long-term, resilient policy and strategy. Demand for our services is growing. More information can be found here:

This is a great opportunity to join GO-Science – we have grown in size, scope and profile since the pandemic whilst remaining a lively, supportive and friendly place to work. We’re an inclusive team, with a variety of working patterns already. We’ll work together to make different working styles work. We’re proud of the commitment GO Science has made to diversity & inclusion.

Person specification

You will lead our advice service to colleagues across Government, providing some of that advice themselves – supporting colleagues to understand what they can do, helping them plan work and facilitating futures exercises. You will also help nurture relationships and broker support from the community of horizon scanners across Government and external specialists.

GO Science itself is a centre of excellence for futures in Government. This role plays a major role in our internationally-recognised Foresight programme, supporting project teams to build futures methods into their work. It also coordinates our Futures Framework – a procurement framework through which colleagues in government can access external expertise more quickly. Promoting the framework and helping colleagues to get their commission right will be a growing area of work. Key Responsibilities are:

– Providing specialist Futures advice to teams across government, including one-to-one advice

– Designing and delivering facilitated workshops and regular introduction sessions.

– Working with the Cabinet Office Joint Data and Analysis Centre to develop and implement a foresight system that builds long-term thinking into the heart of government decision making

– Managing a procurement framework of Futures suppliers which can be accessed by public sector organisations

– Oversight of the Futures team Project Management Office and line management of the SEO PMO lead

– Lead contact for a cross-government network of embedded Futures experts

– Supporting development and delivery of tools, training and resources to support futures work

– Leading continuous improvement of the team’s performance, for example by bringing in new approaches from wider networks, training or experience

– Briefing senior managers and the GCSA on progress and to secure timely decision-making where needed

Skills and Experience

We would love to hear from you if you have:

• Familiarity with futures methodologies and techniques and experience applying strategic futures tools to policy making or strategy

• Experience of designing and delivering futures and foresight projects

• Intellectual curiosity and capability to get to grips with new subjects quickly

• Exceptional organisational skills and good judgement when managing multiple and conflicting priorities

• Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to engage with people across different organisations and levels of seniority

• An ability to communicate clearly, succinctly and persuasively in writing, meetings and presentations, (digitally and in person)

• A track record of developing and nurturing colleagues is desirable. The willingness, and emotional intelligence required, to develop your leadership skills are crucial.

Having experience of government policy development would be great but not essential. You do not need to have a scientific or technical background. Experience in strategy and consultancy would be useful.

We’re a small, supportive team. The ability to adapt to developing priorities, work towards common goals, and help each other out when colleagues are busy, are key to how we work.


We’ll assess you against these behaviours during the selection process:

Working Together

Seeing the Big Picture

Managing a Quality Service

Communicating and Influencing


BEIS offers a competitive mix of benefits including:

A culture of flexible working, such as job sharing, homeworking and compressed hours.

Automatic enrolment into the with an average employer contribution of 27%.

A minimum of 25 days of paid annual leave, increasing by 1 day per year up to a maximum of 30.

An extensive range of learning & professional development opportunities, which all staff are actively encouraged to pursue.

Access to a range of retail, travel and lifestyle employee discounts.

A hybrid office/home based working model where staff will spend a norm of 40-60% of their time in the office (minimum of 40%) over a month with flex dependent on balancing business and individual need (from September 2021, depending on how the public health guidance evolves).

Things you need to know

Selection process details

This vacancy is using , and will assess your Behaviours, Strengths and Experience.

As part of the application process you will be asked to complete a CV and personal statement.

Further details around what this will entail are listed on the application form.

Please use your personal statement (in no more than 750 words) to explain how you meet the criteria of the role.

Applications will be sifted on CV and personal statement.

In the event of a large number of applicants, applications will be sifted on the personal statement.

Candidates who pass the initial sift may be progressed to a full sift, or progressed straigh

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