Civil Service: training and development

How civil servants can improve their capability and skills, including learning and development, the Fast Stream and professional networks.

Building skills and competencies

As part of Civil Service Reform, the government aims to ensure that all civil servants:

  • have the tools and skills they need to provide public services more effectively
  • can be deployed across departments

‘Meeting the challenge of change: a capabilities plan for the Civil Service’ outlines plans to improve skills and performance across the Civil Service.

The capability plan includes a strategy for building individuals’ skills and competencies, and it examines how the Civil Service can use structures and management processes to harness these skills.

For example:

  • all civil servants are entitled to 5 days of learning and development each year, targeted to help them perform better in their work
  • there is a wide range of opportunities such as job shadowing and on-the-job learning, as well as formal training courses

The plan also encourages more secondments into (and from) the private and voluntary sectors.

Competencies are the skills, knowledge and behaviours that lead to successful performance. The Civil Service Competency Framework sets out how civil servants should work.

Learning and development

Civil Service Learning provides e-learning, online resources and classroom courses to support your Civil Service career.

Register with Civil Service Learning to find out more about the opportunities available.

Join a professional network

There are currently 25 professional networks, each led by a head of profession:

In most cases membership is open to anyone working in government departments, agencies or non-departmental public bodies. Some professions also permit membership to professionals outside of government, such as the wider public sector.

What professions offer

In general, the professional networks:

  • provide a governance structure
  • raise standards
  • provide career development opportunities
  • encourage collaboration

Join the Fast Stream

There are potential Fast Stream candidates throughout the Civil Service and we encourage in-service applications.

You will apply alongside external candidates at the same time. The selection process is exactly the same, with the exception that you do not need any academic qualification to be eligible to apply.

You are eligible to apply if you are a serving civil servant at Grade HEO (or equivalent) and below, and have been recruited through a process of fair and open competition. For example, if you are on a temporary contract you may apply provided that the contract was awarded as the result of a competitive process. You should have also passed your probation period by time of applying.

Casual or agency staff, or those on secondment from outside the Civil Service, are unlikely to be eligible to apply. Individuals on poor performance or disciplinary measures are not eligible to apply.

If you don’t have a degree, you can apply for the following schemes:

List of schemes

  • Generalist
  • Diplomatic Service
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Science and Engineering
  • Diplomatic Economic Scheme
  • Finance
  • Commercial
  • Government Communication Service
  • Human Resources
  • Project Delivery

Your salary will be matched as long as it falls within the HMRC pay range for band T.

Grades above HEO are not eligible for the in-service route. Any civil servant can apply to the Fast Stream via the external recruitment route, but they will need to satisfy the full qualifications requirements for their selected scheme.

Please note that, if you apply for the Fast Stream through the in-service route and are successful, any break in service may impact on your offer of employment. You will risk having the offer of employment withdrawn. The condition of an in-service application is that you maintain continuity of service. Continuity of service is normally maintained where:

  • the break in service is less than 4 weeks following previous employment with a government department
  • the offer of re-employment is received before the last day of your current contract and you start with the Fast Stream within 13 weeks of the end of your current contract

Continuity of service will not be preserved where:

  • the break in service is longer than the periods specified above
  • you commence work for any other employer during a break in service (this includes in service applicants who receive a formal offer of re-employment before they leave the Department).

Fast Stream application process

There is no longer a separate in-service entry route for the Fast Stream. You must apply through the externally advertised competition and go through the same processes and assessments as external applicants.

Please be aware that if you’re successful in your application you’ll be issued a new contract and you might not remain in your current department.

Published 23 April 2014
Last updated 15 September 2014 + show all updates
  1. Update to eligibility criteria for existing civil servants to apply to the Fast Stream.

  2. First published.