An independent review is being launched into the pay and reward structures of the government's 10,000-strong science and engineering profession, which provides the civil service with analytical evidence for policy.
The review will look at packages across the entire GSE profession, whose varying roles are mainly based outside of London but connect with most Whitehall departments, and compare them with those available in industry and academia.
It is being commissioned over the next six-to-12 months as part of measures contained in a new blueprint for the body.
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The GSE Professional Strategy sets out what the profession wants to achieve over the next five years, with goals including raising the profile of science and engineering careers within the civil service, and encouraging interest from new talent.
The document said specialists across profession “often perceive that their pay is lower than equivalent roles” outside the civil service, but said that reliable and comprehensive data was scarce.
It added that some specialist areas also suffered from recruitment and retention issues and that “better access to turnover data” was required.
"Go to experts"
Other work proposed in the strategy includes looking at ways GSE can boost its profile within the civil service itself, such as introducing a network of “go to” experts for policymakers; better continuous professional development opportunities; and an expansion of the Science and Engineering Fast Stream programme.
Prof Sir Mark Walport – who is the government’s chief scientific adviser and head of the Government Office for Science – said the strategy signalled the start of an “exciting period of evolution” for GSE and was based on workshops held around the country earlier this year.
“The strategy outlines 10 key areas for us to focus on over the next five years,” he said.
“These work-streams seek to ensure that GSE members can access satisfying career paths and continuing professional development opportunities regardless of their role or grade.”
Walport highlighted two key areas he said it was important for the profession to focus on, including supporting GSE members to achieve professional accreditation.
“I anticipate that this will help to ensure that GSE has the right skills and expertise, and that individuals are recognised for their contributions.
“As importantly, the strategy outlines our ambition to take a lead in the area of diversity and inclusion, acting as an exemplar of the Civil Service Talent Action Plan.
“We have set out an aspiration for our membership to reflect society in terms of age, ethnicity, gender, sexual-orientation, disability and socio-economic background.”
Cabinet secretary and head of the civil service Sir Jeremy Heywood said he believed the strategy was “a solid foundation for supporting and catalysing change in the civil service”.