Civil service chief executive John Manzoni has said a new anti-fraud apprenticeship programme created by the Cabinet Office and HM Revenue and Customs will be a “springboard" for joined-up working across government to protect the public purse.
The counter-fraud investigator standard is the 500th apprenticeship approved for delivery by the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, and is expected to be widely used across Whitehall as well as in local government and the NHS.
It will train apprentices to operate within large teams on major investigations, such as tax or benefit scams, or to take more of a self-starting role on smaller criminal and civil cases.
The new standard will underpin the supply of the next-generation of professionals for the Serious Fraud Office, the Insolvency Service, or the Department for Work and Pensions – as well as HMRC and the Department for Health and Social Care.
Manzoni, who has been passionate about the civil service’s need to lead from the front in terms of offering thousands of new apprenticeships, said the counter-fraud investigator standard was an “important milestone” for the wider government's counter fraud profession.
“It represents the first means of direct entry into the profession and as such will be integral to embedding a baseline standard of highly skilled professionals across the counter fraud community,” he said.
“This standardisation will provide a springboard for closer collaboration and joined-up working across government and help us to prevent loss to the exchequer from damaging fraudulent attacks.
“The collaborative design of the apprenticeship, led by HMRC and the Cabinet Office, will improve social mobility and inclusivity, ensuring the profession attracts a much broader range of people.
“This wider demographic will equip us well for the challenges ahead by bringing a broader understanding, insight and flexibility, securing the profession for the future.”
Ben Thorpe, who is apprenticeships lead for fraud investigation at HMRC, said he hoped the opportunity to work on a range of criminal or civil investigations – searching premises, interviewing suspects and obtaining evidence in the process – would be an exciting prospect for young people looking for a career.
The Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education said that because the counter-fraud standard had now been approved for delivery, employers could begin recruiting as soon as they liked. It suggested that GOV.UK’s Find an Apprenticeship page would be likely to host opportunities. CSW understands HMRC's first intake of counter-fraud investigation apprentices is likely to be next year. A local-authority recruitment round is expected to take place first.