'Helping prison leavers get jobs is a huge source of pride’: Recruitment regulator Peter Lawrence on a bumpy but rewarding year

2020 may have been a year like no other, but 2021 was a chip off the old block and relentless from day one. The Civil Service Commission chief exec tells us about 12 more months of dealing with Covid while pushing ahead with new challenges
After the strains and stresses of the pandemic, Lawrence is hoping for a different kind of bumpy ride in 2022. Photo: Land Rover/Flickr

By Civil Service World

22 Dec 2021


What was your highlight of 2021?

This year the Going Forward into Employment “life chances” scheme has gone from strength to strength. 

There are now targets for employing 500 prison leavers as civil servants by December 2023 under this scheme, part of the 1,000-target announced by the prime minister in the Beating Crime Plan. 

My GFiE team continues to work hard also to match veterans, care leavers, carers and the homeless with civil service jobs. 

During 2021 we have already seen 136 people appointed, giving them a real life chance and future they hadn’t previously imagined as well as bringing the benefit of their lived experience into the civil service. 

The more we succeed in this area, the more we want to achieve – it is a really inspiring project. 

How did you tackle the biggest challenges facing your organisation in 2021?

This year has been a year of changes, but I don’t just mean those related to the ongoing pandemic. As director of the Independent Offices, I have responsibilities for the Civil Service Commission, as its chief executive, as well as the office of the Commissioner for Public Appointments and have seen a number of new appointments to these independent regulators.

The first civil service commissioner, Ian Watmore, completed his five-year term of office at the end of September, and as I write I am awaiting the government’s announcement of his successor. In the interim, commissioner Rosie Glazebrook was asked to lead the commission by the government.

Additionally, four new commissioners were appointed from 1 October. They bring with them a wealth of different experience and are currently being inducted into the role, ready to start chairing senior competitions in the new year – just in time as the commission is being asked to chair record numbers of senior recruitment campaigns in departments this year.

Similarly, William Shawcross was appointed as commissioner to succeed Peter Riddell from October. William takes over the role of continuing to ensure that public appointments are made in line with the requirements of the government’s Governance Code. My team and I look forward to working with all of the new commissioners.

Overall, the resilience of our team throughout the pandemic has been strong. Staff have supported each other through the strains and stresses of the pandemic and are well placed as we (hopefully) return to normality.

What is your number one priority for 2022?

On a personal note, I have been getting used to my new partially-retired status since February 2021. I’m hoping though, that 2022 will give me more opportunity to see more of the UK from the bumpy seat of my classic Land Rover Defender. Merry Christmas and a healthy 2022 to you all! 

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