Event Roundup - Digitising the future of hiring with DCMS

Event Roundup - Digitising the future of hiring with DCMS

In our most recent webinar, we heard from representatives from the Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology (formerly part of DCMS) to discuss the future of digital hiring and the necessary precautions put into place to promote trust in these technologies.

Presenting were:

Keith Rosser – Director of Reed Screening & Chair of the Better Hiring Institute (BHI)

Alison McDowell – Co-Founder of Beruku Identity & Digital Identity Advisor at Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology

Hannah Rutter – Deputy Director for Digital Identity at Department for Science, Innovation, and Technology

Modernising the labour market

Keith Rosser spoke about the current need to modernise the hiring process, in order to liberate recruitment processes from antiquated red tape and bureaucracy and meet the needs and challenges of the digital age.

Digital Identity has the potential to power the hiring process, and accelerate recruitment to drive the UK away from its current position as one of the slowest places to hire, to the fastest globally.

The OBR (Office for Budget Responsibility) estimates that budget reforms will only bring 100,000 more people into the labour market – nowhere near enough to fill the UK’s 1.1m vacancies. To address this, innovation and modernisation is needed, and removing barriers into work is critical. The BHI’s plans for cutting red tape and aligning schemes will help 200,000 people into work and 260,000 economically inactive people back into the labour market.

To cut red tape, work by the BHI to ensure frictionless and robust hiring processes has included:

  • Meeting the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Home Office to propose three ways to make digital right to work more inclusive - the propositions were accepted.
  • Working with DBS to ensure alignment between right to work and criminal record checks.
  • Release of Better Hiring Toolkits for industry to standardise and modernise hiring within specific sectors. By the end of 2023, the BHI will have covered 90% of the hiring market with free standardised best practice hiring guidance.
  • Addressing industry-based hiring requirements that can stifle innovation e.g. requirements for physical right to work document checks even though digital processes are available, which limits the flow of staff.
  • Working to modernise hiring practices, including removing unnecessary qualifications and promoting transparency of salary in job adverts (which is resulting in hirers receiving 66% more applicants).
  • Work to improve supply chains – particularly in healthcare and education, there are conflicting standards, requirements, and interpretations for hiring across supply chains, meaning that workers find it difficult to move around between posts or locations. 
  • Working to modernise hiring with online credentials and qualifications, plus digital referencing using open banking information to verify salary and employment history.

Leveraging digital ID

Alison spoke about the possibilities that the widespread use of digital ID can afford employers beyond proving a candidate’s right to work.

Many employers are using digital identity as part of their processes, but are using it in a limited way, since everybody needs to create a digital identity from scratch when they’re needed. In future, the vision is that everyone will have a trusted digital identity that can be shared over and over, instead of scanning physical documents each time. This could be used for job applications, but also for holiday bookings, account setup, and a plethora of other applications.

In order to reach this point, we need to create the critical mass of people who have digital identities, and the critical mass of organisations that want to use them.

The benefits of using digital identity in employment include:

  • Improved candidate and employee experience
  • Efficiencies gained when integrated across the full employee journey
  • Ability to combine digital identities with verified attributes to meet specific needs
  • Compatible with remote and hybrid work environments
  • More secure and less susceptible to fraud than physical processes.

These are particularly true of digital identities bound by attributes - e.g. attached to qualifications or training.

Internally, digital identities can be integrated with other systems. For example, integrating data on employees’ training via their digital IDs with the internal compliance system means that it’s simpler to ensure that individuals are correctly trained in essential issues specific to their position. 

The current referencing and work history process is slow, insecure, and easily defrauded. However, the use of digital identities that are attached to referencing and work history has the potential to significantly accelerate the hiring process.

A digital wallet that attaches qualifications, training history, and work history to a digital identity makes it easier for employees and candidates to move between sites and positions.

Questions still remain about how digital identity can work in different situations. For example, how can we develop digital identities to be internationally interoperable, to ensure a seamless process for employees to work across and move between different countries?

There are so many opportunities to use digital identities across the employee life cycle, but if they are going to become a central feature that links many parts of our personal attributes, histories, and data, how do we know we can trust them?

Securing digital ID

Hannah explained the government’s approach to ensuring trust around digital identity.

The technology behind digital identity has existed for some time, and there are international examples of the widespread adoption of digital identity built on government centrally-held data - e.g. where there's already a history of government-issued ID cards. So how do we create something that's as resilient and trustworthy in the UK, where we don't have this?

Digital ID presents a massive opportunity for addressing productivity issues in the UK, but it also raises risks around privacy, security and control of personal data, as well as being inclusive. The government is also interested in how we achieve international interoperability, and its potential to support government objectives around right to work, fraud and for innovation in places like the finance sector (such as the creation of a central bank digital currency).

In response to the 2019 Digital Identity Call for Evidence, the DSIT committed to:

  • Creating a clear framework of rules, which is now the UK digital identity and attributes trust framework.
  • Establishing a governance and oversight function, which is now the Office of Digital Identities and Attributes (OfDIA)
  • Developing legislation to underpin the frame and governance, which is The Data Protection and Digital Information Bill (DPDI)

Legislation around digital identity was reintroduced in early March 2023. The trust framework has gone through many iterations and people have been given the opportunity to feed back on it at every stage, to ensure robustness. A vigorous certification process has been put in place that supports IDSPs and ensures they're meeting their obligations under the trust framework. This is key to developing trust in products so people know they can rely on organisations for transparency, privacy and security and that they're being held to account.

These measures are also designed to take the pressure off businesses, who want to be able to rely on digital right to work checks.

If individuals are going to use digital identities for other purposes, it’s important that the government provides confidence that there's a robust process in place to make them safe as well as a flexible process for adapting to change in future.

Insights from our attendees

We took the opportunity to get a gauge on the experiences and opinions of our attendees.

Can you see the benefit of digital identity in the hiring process?

Yes – 97%

No – 0%

Not sure – 2%

What are the barriers to the full adoption of digital hiring?

Industry rules – 15%

Regulatory requirements in hiring – 39%

Technology and adoption – 36%

Candidate experience – 7%

Where could digital identity have the most impact?

Removing admin such as CVs – 8%

Speeding up the hiring process – 79%

Managing the employment life cycle – 12%

With an overwhelming majority of 97% of our attendees seeing the benefit of digital identity in the hiring process, it’s clear that digital ID will prove a valuable resource for employers and candidates in the future.

Regulatory requirements in hiring is, according to our attendees, the biggest barrier to the full adoption of digital hiring, with technology and adoption close behind (39% and 36% respectively). This indicates that more work is needed to ensure confidence and accessibility to digital hiring for employers.

79% of our attendees answered that speeding up the hiring process was the area digital identity would have the most impact.

Questions from our attendees

As usual our attendees had a raft of questions for our presenters. We’ve included the most popular questions and answers below:

Have you considered how organisations may misuse digital identity? In future could you see them misusing it e.g. to provide an unfair reference that's stuck against somebody's digital identity?

Hannah - digital identities must comply with data protection rules - right to be forgotten, right to proportionality, which means most instances of misuse like this wouldn't be allowed. We can have confidence that these are being checked - they're part of the certification process. No doubt people will try to find ways round this but we're watching for complaints and issues that arise and making sure we have the ability to amend rules and respond if we see misuse.

Alison - you choose what information you share as part of your digital identity. It's not the case that everything attached is available to everybody. You retain control, so you'd arguably have more control over your data than you might have right now. People will find ways to be nefarious - I worry less about bad references than other things e.g. fraud, but I don't think it creates additional opportunities in this case because you can choose not to share your data.

Is there going to be help and advice for people on digital identity as it develops? Will there be something in place for candidates or employees going through the process for centralised help and advice?

Hannah - we're setting up a governing body which will be hosting information for people, there's currently information on gov.uk but that's not really been written for the public at this stage. We've also been making sure there are obligations on providers to be very clear and transparent and answer questions from the people using their products around how products work and how your data is used within it, and that there's a compliance handling function for all certified providers. This means that people should be able to have concerns addressed at the first line rather than needing to hunt for information.

If we can resolve the inclusivity challenge, do you think the implementation of fuller digital identities for work could drive higher employment figures in future?

Hannah - what I'm seeing from data we're receiving is that we're speeding up onboarding, reducing the gap between job offer and starting work. This could also strengthen gig economy work and give more transparency over how these types of workplaces are functioning. Can't claim impact on wider government objectives yet but it should make it much easier for people to re-enter the workforce.

With lots of the people outside the labour market having digital skills/inclusion issues, how is DCIT helping approach the issue of inclusion?

Hannah - we're looking at using different data sets to build digital identity as passports and driving licenses don't cover 100% of the population. We're keeping a close eye on the market and asking providers to let us know how their products are - or are not - inclusive. We need to see as the market develops if there are gaps opening up that particular groups of people are being affected by. Research with those at risk of digital exclusion is interesting - we often talk about older people but face-to-face onboarding journeys can help with that, it's not that they don't have the smartphone it's that they don't have the confidence to do this. Places like the post office are offering face-to-face support with these sorts of issues. If technology is an issue due to access/disability - there are legal issues here. For document issues we're looking at whether we can offer lower confidence alternatives too.

What’s next?

Digital hiring is a fast-moving area, with new developments happening all the time. Reed Screening is hosting regular events where you can keep up to date with the latest news and share your opinion on policy and process changes.  

Below are a few of the upcoming events you can get involved with: 

  • Thu, Apr 13, 2023: Hiring for tomorrow: Screening speed dating series - Join us for insights on the latest innovation, trends & topics in the world of employee screening
  • Thu, May 11, 2023: Fraud at work: How fraudsters are targeting you - Join us for insights on current fraud trends and how to ensure fraudsters don't slip through the net and enter your business
  • Tue, Jun 06, 2023: Innovation in criminal record checking - Digital futures - Are you one of the many employers carrying out police checks on staff? Join us for invaluable insights..