This report will focus on the civil service sector as a potential employer for business graduates. The Civil Service is an independent and politically impartial sector that encompasses the central government agencies, departments as well as non-departmental government bodies. Government ministers, the police, National Health Service employees, the Royal Household staff, British Armed Forces members and local government officers are not part of the Civil Service (Stanley, 2016). The Prime Minister is the coordinator and manager of this sector and is regarded as the Civil Service Minister. A permanent secretary is the chief civil servant in different departments within the sector.
Since the Civil Service sector has to hold accountability to citizens or the public, it has to attain the highest standards possible. All civil servants should exercise integrity, which entails putting the public service obligations above personal interests. They must also display honesty, which means being open and truthful in all circumstances. Objectivity is another aspect, which refers to basing all the decisions and advices on an in-depth analysis of available evidence (Stanley, 2016). Civil servants are required to exercise impartiality, which means to act on the basis of the case’s merits and serve governments of diverse political parties equally without favouritism.
The Civil Service comprises of 25 professions, which each profession having an independent competency framework. There are diverse professional roles ranging from engineers and communicators to lawyers and procurement managers. Some of the recognised professions include government communication service, corporate finance, counter-fraud standards, government economic service, government IT, government finance, government planning inspectors, among other professions.
Graduate Opportunities within the Civil Service Sector
Currently, the U.K government has 453,000 civil servants working on a full-time basis. These employees are talented individuals who play the role of helping the government in the development and delivery of policies in an effective way. Consequently, a career in the Civil Service sector is quite exciting and important. The dedication and hard work that civil servants put in their work has a significant impact in the lives of citizens. The society would be dysfunctional without the input of civil servants. Thus, a major question is how graduates can get involved and the opportunities available for them in this sector.
One of the most popular and competitive opportunity for graduates to join the Civil Service is via the Civil Service Fast Stream, whose objective is to prepare well-performing graduates for management posts within the sector. This graduate scheme is available to graduates from any degree discipline (Bryon, 2010). Moreover, it offers opportunities for specialising in different areas. Graduates that take this route are assured of more responsibility or placements faster than those who choose different routes or those that begin at lower administrative level positions. Fast streamers have the opportunity to work across a wide range of governmental departments and in different locations nationwide. However, successful graduates who manage to enroll into the scheme are assigned specific departments.
The degree requirements differ from one scheme to the other. For instance, commercial scheme has the objective of giving graduates the experience required for commercial management role in the civil sector. Graduates that join the finance scheme become professionally qualified accountants that would help in shaping the financial policy of the government (Bryon, 2010). These individuals also ensure that the costs are managed and there is delivery of public services in an efficient and effective manner. With the generalist scheme, graduates get the opportunity to serve in various departments and professions.
Within a specific department, graduates gain vast experience by taking part in various work placements, which last between 12-18 months. The experience gained falls in two to three core work areas, which are, corporate services, policy and operational delivery. Corporate services are necessary to ensure the smooth running of all government departments. Graduates that gain experience in corporate services might be serving in the finance, IT, procurement or the HR departments (Stanley, 2016). This job comes with huge responsibility, particularly in terms of coordinating and overseeing departmental budgets. Policy entails working on governmental initiatives and strategy. It involves intensive research, analysis as well as working collaboratively with stakeholders to prepare, plan, implement and evaluate policies. Operational delivery involves the provision of quality public services. In this case, the public directly interacts with governmental work, and the graduate developing this aspect might be controlling administration procedures or managing Job Center operations.
Placement opportunities in the Civil Service sector are also available to graduates. Since the Civil Service sector is diverse with different careers, it is a smart choice for graduates to consider work experience opportunities. Placements help graduates to establish their interest and provide insight into what they can expect when serving in the Civil Service sector. Some departments have structured work experience that is offered as summer internships or sandwich placements that last for 12 months. Some common examples are the Government Economic Service, which caters to economic students (Stanley, 2016). There is also GCHQ that considers STEM students while Foreign Commonwealth Office offers placements to international relations graduates.
Another opportunity worth noting is the Summer Diversity Internship Program, which is available to ethnic minority, disabled and disadvantaged graduates. Additionally there is the Early Diversity Internship Programme, which provides a 7-day work experience for the first-year students that are interested in finding out and learning more about Fast Stream placement program.
Graduate Attributes and Employer Requirements
Although most graduate schemes in the Civil Service accept any qualification obtained by undergraduate students, some departments may prefer particular degrees. Some sector roles may necessitate special knowledge. For instance, for one to begin a career in chartered public finance accountancy, it would be necessary to have a finance and accountancy degree, mathematics, economics or business (Bryon, 2010). Company secretaries would be required to have a degree in law and business management. Those aspiring to be facility managers should have a qualification in construction, building management, surveying or hospitality.
There are some attributes that graduates should have so as to work in the Civil Service sector. Excellent negotiation and organisation skills are fundamental since individuals working in this sector may be required to juggle various projects with different levels of priority. Flexibility and creativity are also needed, and these entail the ability to embrace change and creatively solve problems. In the Civil Service sector, employees are keen to gain insight into becoming great leaders as well as influencing and inspiring the people around them (Bryon, 2010). Thus, leadership and communication skills are fundamental. Team-working skills are also essential since these employees work with a wide range of people with different qualities and skills. It would be necessary for a civil servant to know how to motivate and work collaboratively with different people.
A graduate that desires to work in the Civil Service sector should be enthusiastic and committed toward current affairs, policy issues and politics. Since policy and politics shapes a country, every person has an opinion. A person that wants to work in the Civil Service should be aware of the current controversies and be in top of such issues (Bryon, 2010). Since the sector has numerous personalities and is extremely competitive, a potential candidate should have the drive and confidence to perform any role assigned. Time management skills are also necessary since they would enable a civil servant to manage the assigned workload within the given deadlines. Other additional attributes include interpersonal skills, project management skills and commercial awareness.
Employer’s Recruitment and Selection Practises
The recruitment and selection process in the Civil Service sector has always been known to be impartial and fair. The recruitment decisions are based on both competencies and success profiles. The Competency Framework was introduced in April 2013 and it provides a recruitment approach that is consistent (Stanley, 2016). The approach entails identifying the knowledge, behaviours ad skills that result in successful performance. A break down is then made on how the skills in question can be applied at each grade. A special focus is given to past behaviour examples as a means of predicting future behaviour in specific job areas. With this approach, assessment of all candidates adheres to similar criteria. The approach also ensures that recruiters use the same language for the selecting or recruiting purposes. Therefore, the Competency Framework has had a positive impact on the Civil Service Sector.
Success Profiles have also been used to successfully recruit employees into the Civil Service sector. The elements that are assessed using this approach include Civil Service Behaviours, ability, strengths, technical skills and experience. The approach considers the natural talents and strengths of an individual, which gives the applicants an opportunity to show their suitability and ability to carry out a specific role (Bryon, 2010). Success Profile approach also allows the recruiting managers to design the selection criteria methods on the basis of the available vacancies. This maximises the ability of the recruiters to get the best candidates for specific roles. With Success Profiles, both the external and internal candidates would have a level playing field.
A case study that can be used to demonstrate the recruitment and selection practice is Southwood School that needed to hire a business teacher with managerial skills. The first step that the human resource manager took was to post the recruitment advertisement to a U.K national newspaper (Robson, 2008). The advertisement contained details such as the job title, the responsibilities and the skills that potential candidates had to possess. Potential candidates should have accurate and clear information regarding the position and the recruitment process. Another step is making a selection day timetable, which gives a schedule of events noting the time and location that the selection process will be done. According to Robson (2008), it is also necessary to structure the interview questions, with the questions stemming from different stakeholders. The question should test the candidates’ technical skills, competencies, managerial skills, conflict resolution skills, strengths and weaknesses as well as creativity skills. Such diverse questions ensure that the individual chosen for the position is competent and all-rounded. Once all the mentioned preparations have been completed, applicants are shortlisted, called for an interview and then a candidate that is a best fit for the position is given the job.
Personal Development Plan
These are the goals that are achievable within a year or less. My short-term objectives and plan include acquiring training in good leadership skills, communication skills and decision-making skills. I also plan to have a great team relationship with my colleagues and within the organisation I will intern with. The target completion time is one year. Since I plan to undertake my internship for six months, I plan to attend various leadership training that will enable me acquire good leadership skills. The internship role will also help to improve my communication skills.
This plan focuses on professional skills that will take more than a year to acquire. They include ability to support other people, motivate and inspire staff, delegate responsibilities, write reports and analyse information. At this stage, I plan to apply for a junior managerial position, which will give me the chance to display my acquired leadership skills. The target completion time is 2 years from now.
My long-term goal is to hold a senior business managerial position. This plan will be achieved within a 4-year period. I hope to display good leadership skills, which will enable me to support, motivate and inspire my colleagues. I also hope to use good communication skills to enhance the process of making decisions, writing reports as well as analysing situations and problems. Another goal is to display the skills that would help in building trust and confidence among the people around me. I will make an annual review of the goals mentioned and check whether each of the set goals has been attained within the set target date.
Byron, M., 2010. How to pass the Civil Service Qualifying Tests: The Essential Guide for Clerical and Fast Stream Applicants. Kogan Page Publishers.
Robson, F. L., 2008. Southwood School. A Case Study in Recruitment and Selection. Society for Human Resource Management.
Stanley, M., 2016. How to be a Civil Servant. Biteback Publishing