DFID Entry Scheme for Advisers (DESA) (Climate & Environment)

United Kingdom 🇬🇧


East Kilbride, Glasgow or Whitehall, London in the first year with the 2nd and 3rd year being overseas.

About the job

Job description

Who we are

The Department for International Development (DFID) leads Britain’s fight against global poverty, delivering UK aid around the world. Since its creation DFID has helped more than 250 million people lift themselves from poverty and helped 40 million more children to go to primary school. But there is still much to do. DFID works with national and international partners from two UK headquarters in London and Glasgow (East Kilbride) and through our network of offices throughout the world. Careers in DFID offer a diverse range of opportunities untied by a single goal: to tackle poverty and improve the lives of people in developing countries. Our vacancies are often challenging roles which offer an exciting opportunity to work at the heart of international development both in the UK and overseas.

DESA Scheme

DFID is launching a 4th round of the DFID Entry Scheme for Advisers (DESA). This is a great opportunity to join DFID on a permanent basis and progress a career in development as a DFID adviser.

The scheme enables DFID to recruit and develop the right people and offer them the opportunity to develop into effective DFID advisers in their chosen field of expertise. The three-year DESA programme combines development placements in DFID offices in the UK (for 1 year) and overseas (for the following 2 years) with coaching and other structured learning. By the end of the three year development programme you will be expected to take up a DFID Advisory position. As an Adviser in DFID, you will help identify, generate and utilise the best evidence, knowledge, technology and ideas to improve the impact of UK aid; design, manage and evaluate development programmes; and support our Ministers to develop and implement policy.

UK placements (for the first year) are likely to be in our Scottish Headquarters in Abercrombie House, near Glasgow or possibly in our London Headquarters in Whitehall. If successful you will be expected to take up your UK placement in the location determined by DFID. Overseas placements (for years 2 and 3) are in various DFID country offices around the world.

Places are available in the following professional groups in this 4th round:

Climate and Environment, Conflict, Education, Evaluation, Governance, Humanitarian, Infrastructure, Livelihoods, Private Sector Development and Social Development.

The scheme is looking for people with:

•Talent, commitment and a passion for development; a willingness and ability to work in fragile and challenging countries.
•A relevant postgraduate qualification (Master’s Degree, PhD) or equivalent.
•Ability to demonstrate work experience in a relevant development field.

DFID’s business is becoming more demanding, requiring a high level of skills. The purpose of DESA is to grow technical advisory talent in-house. DESA will provide individuals with a valuable development opportunity with quality work experience designed to develop technical advisory skills across a broad range of areas. At the end of the three year placement DESA will have a pipeline of people with the right mix of operational experience and policy competence to function effectively as A2 advisers and to become high performing A1 advisers in due course, with SCS potential.

DFID Advisers are expected to play a major role in:

• The analysis and formulation of policies for country aid strategy, working with other DFID advisers, programme managers, researchers and consultants
• Establishing close and constructive relationships with country partners (organisations and individuals) – this will be dependent on the role but could include for example, with government at different levels, with the private sector, civil society, research organisations, and academics.
• Establishing close and constructive relationships with key international players, Foundations and bilateral and multilateral aid agencies – in-country, at headquarters, regionally or internationally – where necessary.
• Working effectively with other Whitehall departments on a broad range of professional/specialist related issues relevant to the specialism and developing countries.
• Identification, design, commissioning and monitoring the implementation and impact of projects, programmes and policies in areas covered by DFID’s professional advisers.

More Information on Cadre and Requirements

The Climate and Environment Cadre leads DFID’s efforts to promote inclusive, greener, low carbon development; to reduce poor people’s vulnerability to environmental degradation and impacts of climate change, as well as to enhance the environmental quality of land, water and air upon which particularly poor people depend. Our aim is to unlock the potential of green growth, manage the risks associated with climate change and create truly sustainable development for current and future generations.

Climate & Environment DESAs are also expected to demonstrate against:

1 – Climate & Environment Technical and Shared Competencies
2 – Civil Service Core Competencies (Making Effective Decisions, Leading and Communicating, Delivering Value for Money, Collaborating and Partnering and Seeing the Big Picture)

Please see attached job profile and competency frameworks for more information on the competencies required to demonstrate against. For DESA you must demonstrate how you meet the minimum requirements for the cadre.

How to apply

Step 1: Review the advert, job profile and core, technical and shared competency frameworks.
Step 2: Plan and prepare your application by:

•Completing the online application form – Provide evidence against the Core competencies under the ‘Competency Examples ‘Section. Provide evidence against the Technical and Shared Competencies under the ‘Skills and Experience’ section. Ensure to complete the CV section including qualifications. Remember the STAR technique, situation, task, action and result when you are preparing your response.
•When completing the “ Skills and Experience “ section on the online application form please use this section to demonstrate the Technical and Shared Advisory competencies using no more than 2000 words. Please use 1500 words for technical competencies and 500 for shared competencies. It will help your application to signpost the technical/shared competencies you are addressing. Please note we will not take into consideration any text over the 2000 word limit.

Step 3: Submit by closing date – 30th April 2017

• Civil Service jobs upload – complete online application form ensuring to provide evidence against the Core, Technical and Shared Competencies

Person specification

When completing the ‘Skills and Experience’ section on the online application form please use this section to demonstrate the Technical and Shared Advisory using no more than 2000 words. Please use 1500 words for technical competencies and 500 for shared competencies. It will help your application to signpost the technical/shared competencies you are addressing. Please note we will not take into consideration any text over the 2000 word limit.


A relevant postgraduate qualification (Master’s Degree, PhD) or equivalent


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

  • Leading and communicating
  • Seeing the big picture
  • Making effective decisions
  • Collaborating and partnering
  • Delivering value for money

Civil Service Competency Framework



Civil Service pension schemes may be available for successful candidates.

Things you need to know


Successful candidates must pass a disclosure and barring security check.
Successful candidates must pass basic security checks.


Successful candidates will be expected to have a medical.

Nationality statement

Candidates will be subject to UK immigration requirements as well as Civil Service nationality rules.

If you’re applying for a role requiring security clearance please be aware that foreign or dual nationality is not an automatic bar. However certain posts may have restrictions which could affect those who do not have sole British nationality or who have personal connections with certain countries outside the UK.

Selection process details

Applications will be assessed in 2 stages:

Stage 1: paper sift:

a) Initial sift to ensure minimum criteria is met and application completed correctly – online application form covering civil service, technical and shared advisory competencies which includes a section for your CV.
b) 2nd sift to determine whether applicant meets the minimum requirement against the following core competencies; Making Effective Decisions, Leading and Communicating and Delivering Value for Money. If you meet the minimum criteria for these the remaining core competencies, technical, and shared competencies will be assessed. If you do not meet the minimum criteria for the 3 core competencies your application will not be assessed further.

Stage 2: Assessment Centre

b) Short-listed candidates for this vacancy will be required to attend a one day assessment centre. The assessment centre is a process which complements the technical panel interview system whereby, through a series of written and verbal exercises, we try to identify if you have the personal traits and characteristics most suited to carrying out a DFID appointment.

The assessment centre process will assess all core, technical and shared competencies as outlined in the job advert and include some of the following elements:

• a technical panel interview with a minimum of 2 and maximum of 4 members; the interview covering key core, technical, shared and international competencies;
• a technical written exercise (laptop provided), and/or a technical presentation exercise (flip chart normally provided) – you may be asked to prepare these in advance of the assessment centre or on the day. If you are required to prepare any exercises in advance you will be contacted the week before your assessment centre date. If we cannot contact you during this period then it may be necessary to withdraw your invitation to the assessment centre;

• a Group discussion exercise (normally involving 4-5 candidates).

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.

Nationality requirements

Open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) and certain non EEA nationals. Further information on whether you are able to apply is available here.


Candidates in their probationary period are not eligible to apply for vacancies within this department.

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission’s recruitment principles.

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equality of opportunity. There is a guaranteed interview scheme (GIS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Apply and further information

Contact point for applicants

We expect to receive a large volume of applications, therefore, we will only contact your directly if you are shortlisted for one or more of these vacancies.

Please e-mail [email protected] and put “Recruitment Query” in the title of your e-mail if you have any questions and we will send you a substantive reply as soon as possible.

Sift/interview dates and location

The Climate & Environment Assessment Centre has been provisionally arranged for the week beginning 10 July 2017 in our office in East Kilbride near Glasgow. Please try to keep this week available if possible, if the assessment centre dates changes you will be notified. Candidates will be advised 2 weeks before the date of assessment if they are being invited to assessment centres and should check their email regularly.

If the assessment centre date is not suitable we may be able to offer you another date however this is not guaranteed. If a suitable date cannot be given you may be withdrawn from the process.

Further information

Candidates must be nationals of member states of the European Economic Area (EEA), Swiss or Turkish National or Commonwealth citizens with an indefinite right to remain in the UK without employment restrictions.

Candidates invited to assessment centre or interview will be asked to provide a copy of the photograph page of their passport (or other proof of identity, nationality and immigration status if their passport is not available), before they attend the assessment centre or interview. We recommend candidates scan the relevant pages of their passport to [email protected] If candidates are unable to do so within the specified deadline they must contact us, as candidates who fail to do so will be withdrawn from the assessment centre or interview.

Security Clearance

Baseline Security Clearance is required for this post. Baseline Security Clearance involves verification of identity, nationality and immigration status; employment history (past 3 years) and a criminal record check. Security checks take significantly longer for candidates who do not have British citizenship and/or have not been resident in the UK recently. For your overseas posting you may be required to obtain Developed Vetting (DV) or UK Security Cleared (SC) and additional checks will be required and to enable meaningful checks to be carried out you will normally need to have lived in the UK for a sufficient period of time. Depending on the level of clearance being carried out this may range from three to ten years. The normal UK residency requirement for Baseline is 3 years, SC is 5 years and 10 years for DV. Further information on HMG Personnel Security Controls can be found at https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/hmg-personnel-security-controls.

Visa/Assessment Centre Costs

Please note DFID will not contribute to any visa costs relating to attending an assessment centre or taking up a post.

Candidates can claim travel costs if they attend an interview/selection stage for the vacancy.


C & E Technical Competencies Opens in new window (docx, 54kB)
Civil Service Competencies Opens in new window (pdf, 1535kB)
C&E DESA Job Profile Opens in new window (docx, 73kB)
DESA FAQ Opens in new window (docx, 55kB)