Cabinet Office
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More talented school-leavers take the fast track to government

The number of young people applying to be a Civil Service Fast Track apprentice has gone up by 30% this year.

With National Apprenticeship Week well under way, the Cabinet Office has reported a 30% increase in the number of applications to join its expanding Civil Service Fast Track apprenticeship scheme for roles across government.

Applications for this year’s intake closed recently, with nearly 3,000 young people aged between 18 and 21 putting themselves forward. The scheme was open to 18 to 21-year-olds with five A*-C grades at GCSE (including English and maths). Successful applicants will take up their posts in September 2014.

About the Fast Track apprenticeship scheme

The Fast Track apprenticeship scheme was launched in 2013. It gives talented school-leavers looking for an alternative to the graduate route into employment an opportunity to earn while they learn in challenging roles at the heart of government. Unlike many other apprenticeships, successful applicants are placed in permanent posts, at Executive Officer level.

100 applicants were placed across 8 departments in the first year of the scheme. This year, the number of places is being doubled to 200, and 16 departments are taking part. The aim is to increase the places available to 500, so that the programme matches the graduate Fast Stream – a long-established government talent scheme.

Successful candidates will find themselves in a variety of roles as generalists or specialists in one of the participating departments – from working as a paralegal officer in Birmingham, to supporting people into work in Hull or helping to brief ministers in Whitehall.

Read about the experiences of civil service apprentices Cora Gordon, Conor O’Connor, Ayath Ullah and Rya Cooper.

The apprentices will be expected to develop a range of skills and will have the opportunity to apply for other civil service career opportunities at the end of the 2-year scheme. This year, in some areas, as well as a Level 4 Business Administration qualification, apprentices can work towards specialist qualifications in IT and finance.

Kemet Hawthorne Pink, one of the first intake in September 2013, is now working in the private office of Cabinet Secretary Sir Jeremy Heywood and Head of the Civil Service Sir Bob Kerslake.

Kemet said:

I weighed up the options and although university is great, this scheme offered me a way into a job I’ve always wanted to do. From the start you are given a lot of responsibility and have to work hard – but that matches my level of ambition. I want to progress, and I have the opportunity to learn some quite technical skills in finance and procurement. Now I’m in, all doors are open to me.

Cabinet Office Minister Francis Maude said:

The Fast Track Apprenticeship scheme is growing, attracting more high-achieving school-leavers who want to go straight into work. This is a pool of talent we can’t afford to ignore if we are to create the modern, highly skilled civil service that will help us compete effectively in the global race.

Head of the Civil Service Sir Bob Kerslake said:

I know there are many bright and committed young people looking for an alternative to higher education. That is why we created the Fast Track Apprenticeship scheme as a route to success in one of the varied careers offered by the civil service. My ambition is for it to continue to grow and achieve the same credibility and status as the graduate Fast Stream.

Notes to editors

There were 2,947 applications to the Fast Track Apprenticeship scheme this year, compared with 2,252 in 2013. Applications were divided as follows among the 7 participating English regions:

  • London – 658
  • Midlands – 601
  • North East – 364
  • North West – 664
  • South East – 138
  • South West – 168
  • Yorkshire & Humberside – 347

Departments and professions within the civil service will continue to run their own apprenticeship schemes alongside the new cross government scheme.

Read the Civil Service Reform Plan.

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