The Civil Service has got lots of talented people, and we need to build our capability and skills even further to meet the challenges of the modern world. To ensure we have the right skills to meet these challenges, we have – as part of Civil Service Reform – put in place a rigorous new process for improving skills and performance across the Civil Service.


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A rewarding challenge

The UK reserve forces play a vital part in our nation’s defence. The Civil Service is one of the UK’s largest employers of reservists. To support the government’s plans to increase the size of the Reserve Forces, departments now offer a minimum of 10 days’ special paid leave each year for reserve training.

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Make a date for mentoring

A room buzzing with conversation, people chatting in pairs across tables, at the sound of a bell they move along to talk to a new partner…sounds like speed dating…But this is speed mentoring, giving people a chance to get career and development advice from senior managers across several departments.

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Sir Bob Kerslake visits staff in Nottingham

Sir Bob Kerslake Q&A session Nottingham

Apex Court in Nottingham was the latest office to host Sir Bob Kerslake, Head of the Civil Service, for a capabilities-themed workshop with staff followed by a Q&A session.

Over one hundred civil servants from a number of departments represented in Nottingham attended the Q&A, where Sir Bob spoke about the Capabilities Plan and answered a host of questions from the audience.

Chris Last, Head of Government HR Operations, also joined and participated in both sessions.

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Bite sized examples

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office launched the Expertise Fund in 2012 to deepen geographical and thematic expertise; and the Diplomatic Skills Foundation Programme to provide new learning opportunities for junior staff. Over 700 FCO staff undertook international policy skills training in between 2011 and 2012. They have introduced Commercial Diplomacy Awareness workshops. 300 staff have been trained in commercial and economic diplomacy and over 200 in economics.

The Department for Work and Pensions launched its own Capability Strategy, to align with the civil service capability strategy, picking up the cross government priorities and building in elements specific to the Department. DWP already has its own emerging and executive talent management programmes and new cohorts starting in October and November of 2012. Performance and potential asessment information for all Directors and Deputy Directors is discussed regularly with the Department’s Executive Team.

Engineering Capability Scheme

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory’s (Dstl) longest-running apprenticeship scheme is the Engineering Capability Scheme which has been run jointly with QinetiQ since 2005. The three year scheme involves apprentices spending the majority of the first year at QinetiQ and year two on rotation between QinetiQ and Dstl. Year three is spent with Dstl with an emphasis on finding the most appropriate permanent placement for the apprentices post qualification. The apprentices initially study for a Mechanical Engineering qualification and in their third year they are matched to a suitable department in Dstl where they can look to specialise. Dstl currently has seventeen engineering apprentices with the numbers likely to increase in the future. It also has two further apprentices from other parts of the Ministry of Defence on placements with its engineering capability scheme.

Laboratory Technicians Scheme

Dstl currently has six apprentices on the Laboratory Technicians Scheme who started in 2012. Their role is to provide laboratory support by maintaining the lab facilities including ordering stock and co-ordination of maintenance and calibration. They also support routine scientific tests and assist outdoor experiments. They are studying for a level three NVQ and HNC and they are also working towards RSCi designation with the Royal Society of Chemistry or the Institute of Biology. This is a new scheme for Dstl which is currently working with the National Apprenticeship Service to look at how to get the scheme fully accredited. Dstl is also looking at possible expansion in the future as the requirement is increasing across other areas of the organisation.

Business Administration Services Scheme

Dstl had ten apprentices join last year on an accredited scheme completing an NVQ Level Two in Business Administration. They are embedded across Dstl and support at all clearance levels. Dstl is currently investigating options for further development of these apprentices if they take up a role upon completion of their apprenticeship. Dstl is also considering options for a similar scheme with a Commercial focus.

In summary, Dstl currently has 25 apprentices working on technical and engineering axis and a further 10 on the business administration side.

Further information

User stories

DWP build digital capability using the Competency Framework

In April 2013 the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) introduced the new Civil Service Competency Framework. DWP took this opportunity to work collaboratively with Senior Managers and HR in delivering the Competency Framework, supporting Civil Service Reform and promoting Civil Service Learning.

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