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The Fast Stream and Beyond - some insights into Civil Service Recruitment

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📥  Careers Resources, Finding a Job, Graduate Jobs, Sector Insight, Subject Related Careers

Civil Service overview

The Civil Service does the practical and administrative work of government. More than half of all civil servants provide services direct to the public. If you want to know more about the Civil Service and it's purpose then go here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/civil-service/about. If you are interested in the work of the more than 60 government departments and over 100 agencies then these can easily be found on the https://www.gov.uk/ website where every department and agency has a space.

Jobs within the Civil Service can range from administrative positions within departments to embassy posts with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).  There are also a number of professions employed within the Civil Service including economists, statisticians and scientists . Staff may work anywhere in the United Kingdom and possibly overseas, although the majority involved in policy work are located in London. There are increasing numbers of opportunities within the devolved regions and some departments are based in locations such as Bristol, Leeds, Sheffield, Newcastle, Edinburgh and Cardiff.

The ‘Professional Skills for Government’ framework ensures that all staff are able to operate effectively in operational, corporate services and policy roles. This is particularly true of the Fast Stream which can often be thought of as a purely policy role.  Increasingly special advisers and senior posts are filled from outside the ranks of existing civil servants.

The Civil Service is at its smallest size now the second world war and yet Brexit may mean more staff are required to carry out work previously done in Brussels. It is hard to know how this will play out. We know the 2016 Civil Service Fast Stream recruitment numbers were increased after the selection process had been completed.  After the selection process candidates hear whether they have got a job offer. They are given an overall score  out of 20 and then ranked with offers being made from the top down to the recruitment level for that year. We know of some good candidates who initially missed out but had an offer come through later as numbers were increased. We don't know if that can be attributed to Brexit or the change in government departments that Theresa May bought in when she became PM but this might bode well for the next round of recruitment.

Civil Service Fast Stream

This is the accelerated development programme for graduates which is open annually between end of September (29th in 2016) and end of  November (30th in 2016). This includes entry into the Diplomatic Service. It is also possible to apply to the Civil Service Fast Stream even though you are working within the Civil Service. See http://www.faststream.gov.uk/and follow their Facebook page. There are several different Fast Streams:

Analytical Options (AFS):

  • Government Economic Service (GES)
  • Government Operational Research Service (GORS)
  • Government Statistical Service (GSS)
  • Government Social Research Service (GSR)

Corporate Options:

  • Generalist (GFS)
    • Central Departments  (GD)
    • Diplomatic Service (DS)
    • Houses of Parliament (HoP)
    • Science and Engineering (SEFS) (only open to postgraduates)
  • European (EFS)
  • Northern Ireland (NIS)
  • Commercial (Commercial and Finance) (CFS)
  • Internal Audit (Commercial and Finance) (IAFS)
  • Finance (Commercial and Finance) (FIFS)
  • Human Resources (HRF)
  • Government Communication Service (GCFS)
  • Digital and Technology (DAT)

Other Civil Service Graduate Schemes

Graduate schemes run by individual departments can be hard to find out about so keeping an eye on the Civil Service Jobs website is important as not all have dedicated webpages available to see year round (see  section below).

It is also worth noting that many Civil Service graduate schemes make offers of jobs at the grade below to ‘near misses’. This happens in the Fast Stream too. Those that scored only a few points below the overall benchmark may be made an offer or an interview for a role at Executive Officer grade (the grade below the one Fast Streamers start on). This isn’t always well publicised because employers don’t want to raise candidate expectations but it is worth being aware that applications to the Fast Stream or other Graduate Scheme can be a good entry point into the Civil Service.

Other services who recruit graduates include MI5 https://www.mi5.gov.uk/careers/, MI6 https://www.sis.gov.uk/explore-careers.htmland GCHQ https://www.gchq-careers.co.uk/apply-now.html

Other Civil Service Jobs

The place to look for all Civil Service vacancies is https://www.civilservicejobs.service.gov.uk. Create an account and you can then set up some preferences and then receive regular job updates by email. You will need to click "Show more" to be able to select Job Grade as a preference. Why should you look here? Because there are many jobs that would be suitable for graduates within the Civil Service that are not part of the Fast Stream or other Graduate Schemes.

Frequently spotted on Civil Service Jobs :

  • HMRC Social Researchers
  • Temporary Statistical Officers
  • Temporary Assistant Economists
  • Various individual Scientist Posts suitable for both undergraduates and postgraduates
  • Graduate Internships at Executive Officer level

Work Experience

There are two schemes available:

  • Summer Diversity Internship Programme (SDIP) is only available to those in their final year at University, with an ethnic minority background, those with a disability or those from under-represented socio-economic backgrounds.
  • Early Diversity Internship Programme (EDIP)

You will find that placements are available through your placement office in some government departments and others may be advertised through the Civil Service Jobs website mentioned previously. There is not a strong expectation that you will have gained experience within the Civil Service before applying for a graduate job there. Think about the competencies that they recruit against and develop your experience to demonstrate these.

Understanding Grades in the Civil Service

I cannot guarantee this is accurate but it gives an idea.

Grade descriptions are used as follows in descending order:

Grade 6/7 £40,000 - £60,000

Senior Executive Officer/Higher Executive Officer £28,00 - 38,000 (this is where you enter the Fast Stream). Fast Streamers are expected to accelerate from HEO to Grade 7 quickly (3/4 years), whereas the climb to Grade 7 outside the fast stream is much slower.

Executive Officer c £20,000 - 28,000 (this could be a good entry level job for a graduate)

Administrative Officer/Administrative Assistant £16,00 to 24,000 (this could also be an entry point into the Civil Service but I would tend towards Administrative Officer level therefore at the higher end of this salary range.)

Nationality Requirements

There is strict criteria regarding nationality for entry to the Civil Service and comprehensive guidelines are available here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/nationality-rules. Any job in the Civil Service is open to applicants who are UK nationals or have dual nationality (with one being British). About 75% of Civil Service posts are also open to Commonwealth citizens and nationals of any of the member states of the European Economic Area (EEA), although at some point this latter group will have their status changed once the UK's exit from the EU is settled. I am advised that the Civil Service is not a Tier 2 sponser.

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