UK Civil Service Fast stream - presentation 2013


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Slides from a Civil Service Fast Stream recruitment presentation made at the University of Manchester, October 2013. For more details, see our blog post at

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UK Civil Service Fast stream - presentation 2013

  1. 1. The Civil Service Fast Stream – A General Introduction
  2. 2. Stereotypes of the Civil Service • • • • • ‘Stuffy’ Oxbridge Yes Minister Not diverse Dull • While these are amusing, they do not reflect the broadness of opportunity the Civil Service offers.
  3. 3. What is the Civil Service? • A group of professionals (500,000) who enact government policy and operations in almost every aspect of life. This is your chance to positively influence how British government works • Politically neutral – Senior Civil Servants aren’t allowed to join a political party and you must get your manager’s position before you take part in any political activities. Even if you personally disagree with a policy, you might be asked to help enact it. • Based all over the UK and abroad (EU Commission, Diplomatic Embassies)
  4. 4. What is the Fast Stream • One of the oldest graduate schemes in the UK • Places you into middle management (‘HEO’ position) • 4 year graduate scheme, designed to show you a variety of government departments and/or different operations. Each experience is totally diverse and due to the wide variety of government departments • You will have a Senior Civil Servant as a mentor to your progress, and an existing Fast Streamer helping you on the stream, as well as your line manager in the placement you are based • By the end of the 4 year scheme you should be considered for ‘Grade 7’ (senior management posts), leading to a possible future career in the Senior Civil Service.
  5. 5. What is the Fast Stream Pt.2 • • • • Mobile – you will be expected to move between placements (if you have extenuating circumstances they will be considered as much as possible) Salary between £25,000-£27,000 on the general scheme. On other schemes it varies depending on the department’s pay scale in which you are placed. Huge amount of learning and development designed to specifically train you to be a ‘future leader’ in terms of communicative skills and professional courses. You can apply to more than one stream in one year, but you can only apply once a year. Don’t be discouraged if you fail the first time – many successful applicants have failed before. A lot of people come later to the scheme – so if you wish to take a few years out this will categorically not be held against you! Depending on the placement you can defer taking up your placement for a year (this depends). There is no preference for recent graduates against older applicants.
  6. 6. Requirements • UK, EEA, or Turkish or Swiss Passport – Sponsorship of other passports is possible but not guaranteed and unlikely. • 2:2 degree (2:1/postgraduate degree in some streams). A specific degree in some sub-streams (Science and Engineering, Economics, Statisticians, Social and Operational Research) • Otherwise open to students from any university, regardless of gender, disability, ethnicity, degree studied, or background • If you are disabled, you may qualify for the Guaranteed Interview Scheme, where you bypass the initial online tests
  7. 7. What is available • 800 vacancies this year, up 200 from last year. • Generalist Fast Scheme – – – – – Central Departments (The largest cohort) Diplomatic Service Science and Engineering Houses of Parliament If you pass the online tests, you will be asked to choose your preference for which of these substreams you prefer. If you want to apply to the Diplomatic Service or HoP you must pick these as your first choice. If you miss out on these two but still qualify for Central Departments you will be offered a place there. It must be stressed the Central Deparments is in no way an ‘inferior’ option and you will still have the opportunity there to do work done in the Diplomatic Service and HoP.
  8. 8. What is available (pt.2) • Analytical Fast Stream (2 rounds), comprising: – Economist – Statistician – Social and Operational Research • • • • HR Technology in Business European Fast Stream Northern Irish Fast Stream
  9. 9. Difficult to get into? • Notorious for large numbers of applicants. Last year 28,000 people registered and 21,000 applied. • However, many people fail due to rushing and/or lack of practice. The number • Reputation of ‘Oxbridge only’: while large numbers of Oxbridge student, this is effected by volume of their applications rather than bias • No discrimination; emphasis on diverse environment.
  10. 10. The Selection Process: Online Tests • • • • Verbal, numerical, competency Time limit for verbal and numerical. Have to reach a specific threshold Consistency – the competency questionnaire is long. Don’t just gallop through it • Practice – make use of your university careers service or online test centres (SHL) beforehand. There are websites offering paid services to guarantee that you will pass – these are generally a waste of money.
  11. 11. Example • • This is not a replication of the online tests, just a mental exercise) E.g. A key function of management is continuous professional development, whereby training courses and seminars provide updates on latest business practices and hopes to develop communicational skills and business effectiveness. These courses can provide a honing of talent but if used wrongly, they can be little more than the waste of a few days teaching redundant or superfluous skills. • Yes, no, or cannot say? • Continuing Professional development has to be used wisely to avoid teaching things people already know. (True) Continuing Professional Development provides its managers with improved communication skills. (Cannot Say) •
  12. 12. E-Tray • Two and a half hours • Complete at home • Both exercises are timed; a lot of people have problems managing the amount of information and answering all the questions. Make sure you give yourself enough time to do so • Divided into two sections – Virtual ‘inbox’ working within a government department dealing with a series of issues that arise – Dealing with members of staff, departmental processes, and outside interest groups – A written response explaining and justifying your previous actions
  13. 13. Example • (This example is not a full indication of the etray, just a mental exercise) • You have just joined the Ministry for Culture and Sport, and are working on a project to examining athletic facilities in the deprived town of Garvinch. You have to deal with people who want the existing athletics stadium to be renovated and want partial or full governmental support, people who want a new stadium, businesses willing to fund the venture depending on support, and local MPs and protest groups who think the money could be better spent
  14. 14. Example (Ctd.) • You receive an email from a local business magnate who’s made his fortune in the region. He’s happy to partly fund a new athletics stadium, provided he is allowed to sponsor the venue and his business take care of catering facilities. However, you have received warning that any deals you do with him is a tacit admission that a new stadium should be built. Do you: – Thank him for his email, and explain that as decisions are still not finalised you cannot take any immediate action? – Set up a date to discuss negotiations, and allow the local MP to also attend? – Delay, saying that due to staff shortages there is not the available manpower – Ask him if he would be interested in sponsoring the existing stadium
  15. 15. E-Tray • There is no right or wrong answer to the answers above. However you will have to maintain consistency in your answers, factoring in dates, fellow team members, internal and external pressures, and the consequences of previous choices • After the e-tray, you will be asked to justify your answers in writing. • Although this is not assessed at the time, it is assessed at the Assessment Centre, should you pass. • Therefore, try and maintain the same level of focus throughout the exercise as the writing exercise will be marked against the same competencies used in the Assessment Centre.
  16. 16. Assessment Centre • Full 9 hour day in London (travel expenses within £100 paid) • Marked against competencies used in the general civil service, NOT against group members – This includes the second part of the e-tray • These competencies form an aggregate score, and if you perform above the baseline you will pass. The baseline varies on the scheme chosen and the waiting time will vary from a few days to a few weeks.
  17. 17. Feedback • Extensive feedback provided from range of professionals, civil servants or otherwise, reaching to several pages • If you don’t pass DON’T be disheartened. The feedback given is useful whether you wish to reapply or if you are applying to other schemes, graduate or otherwise.
  18. 18. Final Board • For certain streams (Diplomatic Service, Houses of Parliament, Science and Engineering Technology in Business, European) there is a final half-day board • This will take the form of an exercise then a general interview under a panel of experts or a ‘sift’ assessment • is your friend! Look at the policy documents coming from various departments that could affect your scheme and how they would implicate your work.
  19. 19. Security Vetting • Before you are offered a position, you will have to undergo background checks • This takes the form of employee references, undergraduate transcripts and so on • For some streams (Diplomatic Service) you will undergo Detailed Vetting, which takes considerably longer. • The whole Fast Stream Application, from applying, to placement, to starting, can take over a year. Try not to get exasperated as the opportunities greatly outweigh the moments of frustration