The Cabinet Office is looking for alternative opportunities for promising interns who would normally be fast-tracked into the government’s Fast Stream graduate scheme.
Fast Stream-run internship schemes for university students are continuing to go ahead, the Cabinet Office has confirmed, but with the government’s signature graduate-level leadership scheme cancelled next year, university leavers will have to look elsewhere for job opportunities.
People who complete the Summer Diversity Internship Programme – a two-month scheme for university students who are from an ethnic minority, are socially or economically disadvantaged or are disabled – can earn an accelerated route to Fast Stream selection.
SDIP interns who receive a positive appraisal are offered a “fast pass” ticket, which allows them to skip the initial stages of the Fast Stream application process. They can use it to apply for the Fast Stream the year they complete their internship or the year after.
Normally, those who receive tickets following this summer’s placements would be able to use them to apply for the September 2023 Fast Stream cohort.
But, with the Fast Stream on pause in 2023 as part of the government’s plan to reduce its workforce by 20%, this year’s SDIP interns will not be able to use their passes next year.
Instead, the Cabinet Office said it is looking for other opportunities for interns with fast pass tickets.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said: "We remain committed to our internship programmes and plan to offer a range of opportunities in 2023.
"This includes engaging with partner schemes to establish further opportunities for interns with fast pass tickets."
This includes graduate schemes both within and outside the civil service, the Cabinet Office added.
The Cabinet Office also confirmed that interns who obtain a fast pass will be able to use it for the next round of Fast Stream recruitment.
It is not clear yet when that would be as the government has not said whether the Fast Stream will return in 2024.
The Early Diversity Internship Programme, a five-day placement for first-year undergraduates from diverse backgrounds, will also continue, the Cabinet Office confirmed. Fast pass tickets are not issued to early diversity interns.
The internship programmes are part of a drive to make the civil service more representative of society.
The proportion of civil servants from an ethnic-minority background was higher than ever before in 2022 at 15%, and higher than the national average of 14.5% among the working-age population in the UK. But they continue to be underrepresented at the higher grades, with ethnic-minority representation in the SCS at around 10%, according to the latest statistics.
Around 14% of civil servants have declared that they have a disability, compared to 16% among the economically active working population in the UK.
A 2021 report found 34% of civil servants described themselves as coming from a low socio-economic background compared to a UK-wide figure of 39%.