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A Career Guide to the Civil Service

Published: Thursday 30th January 2020

Civil Service jobs are a great way to serve the local community, as well as the wider public throughout the UK. However, due to good job security, above average salaries and benefits such as an excellent pension, the competition is stiff and the Civil Service recruitment process can be complex and lengthy 

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Opportunities for all in Civil Service 

That said, with over 400,000 people in UK government jobs, opportunities arise regularly. The UK civil service is divided into 24 ministerial departments including: 

  • Cabinet office 
  • Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) 
  • Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport 
  • Department for Education 
  • Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs (Defra) 
  • Department for Exiting the European Union 
  • Department of Health & Social Care 
  • Department for International Development 
  • Department for International Trade 

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  • Department for Transport 
  • Department for Work & Pensions 
  • Foreign & Commonwealth Office 
  • HM Revenue & Customs 
  • Home Office 
  • Ministry of Defence, Science & Technology Laboratory (DSTL) 
  • Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government 
  • Ministry of Justice 
  • Competition & Markets Authority (CMA) 

Within these departments, Civil Service employees could be working in a variety of functions including analysis, procurement, communications, technology, finance, human resources, international trade, policy, project management and property. Obviously, this means there is a huge amount of choice when it comes to career paths and opportunitiesDue to the need for staff at all levelsapplications are sought from school leavers, graduates and from those in private sector employment 

Many people start out their career in the Civil Service in an administrative role, working their way up into more senior specialised positions. Along the way there can be many opportunities for personal development and training, so opportunities for internal progression are excellent also 

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Civil Service Recruitment 

There are many ways into the UK Civil ServiceA fast-track apprenticeship scheme designed for school leavers requires a minimum of 5 GCSE’s with grades C and above. For the digital and technology scheme, you’ll need 2 A-levels (A – C) in STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering or Maths) 

A Civil Service Fast Stream programme recruits around 900 graduates each year with a range of specialist training programmes. To qualify, you’ll need at least a 2:1 degree depending on the programme. The Ministry of Defence and HM Revenue and Customs operate similar schemes requiring a minimum 2:2. For local government jobs, the main graduate scheme is the National Graduate Development ProgrammeYou can also apply for a graduate scheme at a local authority, or in response to a specific vacancy 

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Local authority jobs such as administrative, clerical, IT and housing positions are advertised on the local government job sitesTemporary roles arise regularly that can lead to a permanent job. The recruitment process for these temporary roles is usually less cumbersome. Civil Service jobs regularly appear on the Zoek job listings. 

In addition to student placements, there are schemes such as the Summer Diversity Internship programme offering a salary of £300-350 per weeka five day paid placement known as the Early Diversity Internship programme and the Movement to Work programme. 

The rewards of public service 

Salaries are above average in the Civil Service. The Fast Stream programme, for example, offers a minimum starting salary of £27,000 or £28,000with regular increments and earning potential on completion, of £45-£55,000 per annum. But it’s the benefits that really make working for the Civil Service an attractive option. These include flexible working including remote working and job sharing, no shortage of training and development opportunities, 30 days leave after five years of service and an excellent pension. 

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