In recent years the Civil Service has undergone a great deal of change, becoming more streamlined and commercially aware. The use of the Civil Service Success Profiles framework underpins fair and open competition to improve diversity and inclusivity in the selection process, and is a sufficiently broad tool to recruit into all roles across corporate services, operational and policy roles. Anyone applying to public sector roles can use this framework to gain valuable insights into the typical recruitment processes used, and the nature of the evidence they will want to provide. More information is include below in the section on 'Skills and Experience'.
There will continue to be many opportunities to make a start in the public sector in 2022-23. However, there is a lot of uncertainty over the scale of recruitment into the central civil service even though the plans to reduce the service by more than 20% were jettisoned in November 2022. This section remains somewhat speculative and reviews the structures and approaches that have existed in previous years.
The Fast Stream: not running in 2022-23?
In the summer of 2022, it was announced that the flagship Civil Service Fast Stream would be paused in 2022-23 . This will be a significant disappointment for many since the Civil Service has been one of the most widely recognised and desirable graduate recruitment options for decades, and was voted the UK's number one graduate employer for the third year running in the 2021-22 Time Top 100 Graduate Employers survey. The Fast Stream has taken more than 1000 in each of the previous five years, and perhaps a similar number of 'near-miss' candidates have received graduate-level entry positions through the Direct Appointments Scheme.
A commitment to run the Early (EDIP) and Summer (SDIP) Diversity Internship Programmes in 2022-23 remains, although timing and dates for applications have not been released (as of 8th November). See the Getting Experience section below.
The Fast Stream website 'Events' page was updated ahead of the 2022 Autumn Statement with the following invitation: "We have paused Fast Stream recruitment in 2022/23 for the 2023 intake. Please fill out the attached form and we will contact you as soon as a date is set for the Fast Stream to restart."
The Fast Stream website continues to be available however and offers useful insights for anyone researching different roles and areas of civil service work or preparing applications.
Departmental and Direct Entry positions
Graduates are also recruited directly by individual Departments and the Government professions, many of which also recruited Fast Streamers. In the absence of a hiring freeze, we hope and expect some degree of recruitment to continue in the current year, although perhaps at much reduced volumes as existing staff are redeployed during the current reduction in total employment.
Based on previous patterns of recruitment, the main routes to research include:
- Departmental and Agency graduate recruitment schemes, including: the HM Treasury Office; Financial Conduct Authority; Government Legal Profession; National Audit Office; Valuation Office, the Office for National Statistics, the Department of Health and Social Care Leadership programme and HMRC Graduate Programme (Tax Professional). Some may accept applications from as early September, so research details and deadlines early.
- The main cross-government service professions that offer direct entry routes, with opportunities opening around the turn of the year (November to February/March). Each year, there have been opportunities to join the Government’s Economic Service(GES); Legal Profession; Operational Research (GORS), Statistical Service (GSS) and Social Research services.
- Direct entry to positions advertised by individual Departments, most typically at HEO (Higher Executive Officer) and EO (Executive Officer) for new graduates. Positions at SEO (Senior Executive Officer) and Team leader levels may also be within reach for some DPhils and graduates who have more substantial work experience, although most will require some management experience.
Use online events and the Oxford Careers Fairs to meet current civil servants and learn about other public sector careers. We plan to offer panel discussions featuring our alumni working in the public sector in Michaelmas Term:
- the Oxford Careers Fair (Thursday 6th October 2022) may bring representatives of graduate programmes from the wider public sector, including the NHS Leadership programme, and the accelerated development programmes for social work (Frontline and Head Start), prison service (Unlocked), the police (Police Now) and teaching profession (Teach First).
- the Science, Engineering and Technology Fair may attract public sector oriented organisations keen to recruit STEM candidates, including GORS, the Statistical Service, the Intellectual Property Office, the UK Atomic Energy Authority, and the Defence Science and Technology Laboratories (Dstl) and the NHS Scientist Training Programme (STP) .
If you have a specific focus or strong interest in particular Department or Agency, check their website regularly, register for email alerts and follow them on social media to keep in touch. Not every programme is well marketed and some schemes may open only a very short application window.
Local Government and the NGDP
The NGDP is a graduate entry and accelerated development programme coordinated by the Local Government Association (LGA). Successful applicants are employed by their local authority for the duration of the NGDP. Although this is not a permanent contract, some 95% of participants successfully transition into permanent positions at the end of the programme, usually with their existing authority and with about 10% of each cohort securing a permanent position at a different local authority.
Trainees will develop a broad understanding of different aspects of local government by undertaking placements in corporate roles, and front-line and support services across a number of the key areas within a council, for example, in education, social services, planning, corporate services and strategy. There may also be the opportunity to take an external secondment with a different local authority or on a separate public sector graduate scheme such as Teach First or NHS Direct.
To stay up to date, and for confirmation of the recruitment timetable, monitor the LGA NGDP website or follow @ngdp_LGA on Twitter, although the details may not be updated until applications open in the autumn.
GCHQ and Intelligence Services
The intelligence services recruit graduates in many disciplines. Some core programmes will be open to graduates from all subjects, such as the graduate leadership scheme, intelligence officers (analysts) or project management programmes. In addition, other roles require specialist skills such as higher-level mathematical modelling skills for code-breaking, opportunities for language students, and expertise in software engineering and cyber security.
The different branches of the security service (Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ); The Security Service (MI5); The Secret Intelligence Service (MI6)) run their own programmes. See the Intelligence Analyst job description on Prospects (a national graduate careers website) for insights into these roles, the skills required, sources for vacancies and likely entry routes as well as suggestions for other similar roles.
Transform Alliance and Partner Schemes
To support the broader aim of improving public services and delivery, a suite of graduate development programmes were recognised by the Civil Service Fast Stream as important partners, including the Transform Alliance that embraced five frontline public services; teaching, children’s social work, policing, prisons, and mental health social work. Each offers a two-year management and leadership development programme, and many have embedded element supporting trainees to study for a relevant Masters Degree.
TeachFirst: Two years as a teacher. Teacher and leadership training for people who are passionate about giving children from the poorest backgrounds a great education. It only takes one brilliant teacher to change a child’s life.
Frontline: Two years as a social worker transforming the lives of the most vulnerable children and families. At least half a million children in England do not have a safe or stable home and the children who need social workers deserve life-changing professionals. Through intensive training with expert academic input you will become a social worker and leader, so you can empower families to achieve positive, lasting change.
Police Now: Two years as a neighbourhood police officer, policing a community of 20,000. Leadership training programme which gives people the opportunity to transform challenged and often deprived communities. Develop skills in negotiation, problem solving and decision-making as well as resilience and emotional intelligence - all skills relevant to many careers. Help to improve lives, not just for today, but for generations to come.
Think Ahead: Two years as a mental health social worker. Social work, mental health and leadership training for people passionate about making a real difference to people with mental health problems. Mental illness is everywhere, it turns lives upside down. Give those with mental health problems the chance to flourish.
Unlocked Graduates: Two years as a prison officer, leading change on the inside. Expert leadership training to lead on the frontline in prisons for people passionate about tackling the damage and cost of prisoner reoffending. Inject new ideas, insights and energy into the rehabilitation of offenders through your actions and thoughts on wider policy. Develop negotiating, influencing decision-making and relationship-building skills vital to any career whilst leading subtle changes on the inside that deliver huge benefits on the outside.
Other partner schemes:
Entrepreneur First: Europe’s leading early-stage investor in technology companies. Helping talented individuals build high growth technology start-ups.
Lead First: The opportunity to complete an intensive leadership development course, before spending up to a year gaining experience in roles within the British army.
Year Here: Designed as a platform for graduates and young professionals who want to build smart solutions to entrenched social problems