Civil service Fast Stream gets a shake-up in bid to improve working class representation
Application window opens for 2017 recruitment programme targeting more candidates from working-class backgrounds
Changes to the civil service’s Fast Stream graduate recruitment programme went live today, with new measures aimed at encouraging more applications from graduates from lower socio-economic backgrounds.
A Cabinet Office-commissioned report published in February found just 4% of Fast Stream candidates came from a disadvantaged background compared with 24% of the overall graduate population.
The study, by the Bridge Group, said there were still “low levels of awareness of the Fast Stream amongst lower SEB students”, with the programme seen as both “attractive and intimidating” to students from poorer backgrounds.
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Online aptitude tests for the now-open 2017 process have replaced verbal and numerical reasoning – shown to disadvantage candidates from less wealthy backgrounds – with situational judgement tests. Meanwhile, an assessment day will be offered in Newcastle as an alternative to a Whitehall session.
The Bridge Group's report said the wider civil service was still seen as “white, male and Oxbridge”, that at 18-31 weeks the recruitment process for the Fast Stream was too long, and that the scheme's “geographical focus on London” was deterring candidates from less affluent backgrounds who were less likely to be able to move to the capital.
As well as the changes to the Fast Stream assessment centres, a programme of outreach events will be held at universities and schools across the country focusing on subjects and areas that are under-represented by applications to the civil service.
Cabinet secretary and head of the civil service Sir Jeremy Heywood said the changes would transform the diversity of candidates on the scheme.
“The new Fast Stream application process is a demonstration of our commitment to attracting the most talented people to the civil service, no matter what their background,” he said.
“The Fast Stream offers unrivalled development opportunities to tackle and solve challenges that can improve the lives of millions across the country. It is a graduate scheme like no other.”
The application window is open until November 30.
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