Senior officials should be more involved in graduate hiring process, Maude says

Ex-minister criticises outsourced Fast Stream recruitment and says leaders should pay more attention to ensuring “broad diversity” of intake
Lord Francis Maude appears before MPs yesterday Photo: Parliament TV

By Jim Dunton

24 Jan 2024

Reforming former Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude has told MPs that civil service leaders are too removed from recruitment and should play a greater role in ensuring departments attract a “broad diversity” of employees.

Lord Maude’s comments came at a Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee hearing yesterday, when he was quizzed on his 2023 review of civil service accountability and reform.

Maude told the committee that he had witnessed a marked decline in the mix of personality types within the civil service between the 1990s and the 2010s – although the ethnic diversity of the civil service has become more representative of the nation over the period.

Maude connected the changes he observed with a lack of senior-level involvement in the hiring process.

“Too much of the recruitment of people is outsourced. Senior leaders in the civil service don’t give it nearly enough attention,” he said.

“I was very struck when I visited Singapore years ago,” Maude said. “Talking to the... public services commissioner, which is a part time job, they select 80 school leavers every year, put them through top universities around the world and the payback is you guarantee eight years in the civil service.

“The public services commissioner told me that he personally interviews the 300 top candidates to select 80. That’s a dedication to an understanding of how important it is to find the right people in the right way to get the right overall mix.

“Recruitment into the Fast Stream was outsourced and we know that a lot of these processes can far too easily end up excluding. You want to reduce the field by excluding outliers, rather than looking for the right overall blend, where you do want some of the outliers. You want that very broad diversity.”

Maude’s governance review did not propose reforms to the Fast Stream. It did, however, make reference to former UK Vaccine Task Force chair Dame Kate Bingham’s criticisms of the low proportion of people with science, technology, engineering and maths backgrounds who pass through the programme.

 

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