Press release

From school hall to Whitehall – Civil Service open to Britain’s best school-leavers

A new Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme will give the most talented school-leavers the chance to work in government.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

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7 January 2013

The Civil Service Reform programme will introduce a new Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme giving the most talented school-leavers the opportunity to work at the heart of government, the Minister for the Cabinet Office, Francis Maude, and the Head of the Civil Service, Sir Bob Kerslake, announced today.

Under the scheme, 18 to 21 year olds who want to learn on the job will be placed in government departments by September 2013. Recruitment for the first 100 places will begin in April 2013. The aim is to increase the total places available to 500 so the programme matches the graduate Fast Stream.

The apprentices will have a structured training programme for at least two years. They will be expected to develop a range of skills and at the end of the scheme they will be able to apply for graduate career opportunities. The scheme will be managed alongside the Civil Service’s other corporate talent programmes.

Apprenticeships are at the heart of the Government’s drive to equip people of all ages with the skills employers need to compete in a global market. The Civil Service Reform Plan published in June committed to developing the capability of all staff and encouraging the most able. This new scheme will strengthen the Civil Service with talented young people who have chosen not to go to university.

Minister for the Cabinet Office Francis Maude said:

We are working to reform the Civil Service, building on its strengths while addressing its weaknesses. Like any big organisation, the success of the Civil Service depends on its staff. It already employs some of Britain’s best and brightest and we have one of the most popular graduate schemes. But we are in a global race and we need to attract more of the best talent, including those who have chosen not to pursue higher education.

This new Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme will provide high-quality opportunities for 100 young people, in addition to those available through the existing graduate Fast Stream. Rather than going to university the apprentices will learn on the job, and at the end of the scheme they will be able to apply for graduate career opportunities. I look forward to welcoming these new apprentices into the Civil Service and to following their careers.

Head of the Civil Service Sir Bob Kerslake said:

The Civil Service is a great place to work and offers a diverse range of challenging and rewarding jobs - our latest survey shows that 89% of staff are interested in what they do.

Our graduate Fast Stream programme is consistently ranked in the Times Top 100 graduate employers and our ambition is for this Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme to have the same credibility and status. Indeed, the scheme would place the Civil Service amongst the best in the private sector. We are committed to giving more young people a chance to work at the heart of government and to receive first class training. Just because someone hasn’t been to university doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have a bright career ahead of them.

Skills Minister Matthew Hancock said:

This is another step forward for our flagship Apprenticeships programme. Apprenticeships are great value for employers, so I’m delighted the Government is practicing what we preach with a new Civil Service Apprenticeship Scheme. Through it, people can learn the business of Government on the job, while the Civil Service gains from having a new route for entrants.

Notes to editors

  1. Recruitment to the programme will begin in April 2013 with the first cohort starting in September 2013. There will be 100 places offered in the first year with the aim of increasing the intake to 500 places a year over the medium term. This will make the scheme comparable in size to the graduate Fast Stream.

  2. Further details of the scheme will be released shortly.

  3. Departments and professions within the Civil Service will continue to run their own apprenticeship schemes alongside the new cross-government scheme.

  4. This scheme is separate to the Civil Service Fast Stream which is for university graduates and our internship programme. Further details on the Civil Service Fast Stream can be found at -

  5. Under this government, the number of people starting apprenticeships has increased at a record rate, with provisional figures showing more than half a million apprenticeship starts in the 2011/12 academic year.

  6. The Civil Service Reform Plan can be found at

Published 7 January 2013