The Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship programme is one of the best paid apprenticeships locally, so we thought it was time to find out more about what you can expect from one of these incredible government apprenticeships. To do that, we spoke with Lydia who joined HMRC in Bristol direct from sixth form on a Level 4 Business Apprenticeship just a few months ago. She told us how and why she started and what it’s actually like to join the Civil Service as an apprentice.

What is the Civil Service?

The Civil Service does the practical and administrative work of government. This includes providing services directly to people all over the country such as paying benefits and pensions, running prisons, hospitals and schools, issuing driving licences, protecting the nation’s security. There are approximately 420,000 civil servants in the UK.

What can you do in the Civil Service?

There are currently fifteen graduate programmes in a variety of career areas from science and engineering to international relations, digital and technological. And there are six ‘Fast Track’ apprenticeship schemes for school leavers around the UK* including Policy, Business, Commercial, Digital, Data and Technology, Finance, and Project Delivery. I joined the business programme in November 2017 at HMRC in Bristol – that’s Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs. I’m on a level 4 apprenticeship and will complete an NVQ qualification in Business Administration, which is equivalent to a foundation degree.

What made you choose one of the Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeships?

It started with my not wanting to go to Uni. Everyone seemed to be completing their UCAS applications and so I went to see the school Careers Adviser and said I was interested in a business role. She showed me the different opportunities with the Civil Service programme and all the benefits of joining. So I applied online, did the tests and got through to an assessment centre day.

There are great pay and benefits working for the Government. The pay range is £19,500 – £27,000, which is a very competitive salary for an apprenticeship. On top of this my academic and training expenses are paid for and I’m also given time to study. A flexible working day means I can work extra hours, more than my contracted 8 hours. I can then take the extra hours off another day – which means I get to have more than my 20 days holiday if I work a bit more than I have too. The Civil Service also has an excellent pension although that part is a long way off for me still.

It is a lot of work, but the hours are flexible as I can choose whether to come in early and do my eight hours or have a later start.

What do you need to apply?

The Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeships are advertised from late February / early March each year and half require only five GCSEs grades 9-4 (or equivalent) whilst the others require A-Levels.

What is a typical day like for you?

It’s still very early days for me, but so far everything has been amazing and really interesting. I’m learning a lot and going off site with qualified officers to visit different businesses as well as being in the office learning. I’ve helped with business questionnaires, cashing up tills and generally been involved in as much as I can at this stage. I have been doing a lot of online learning and my team have been great in giving me little tasks to split the reading up.

What does the future hold for you?

In due course, I’ll get my own cases to work on which will be brilliant and I’m really looking forward to that.

What would you say to a young person thinking of a similar career path?

I’d say “Go for it!” – It’s been a fantastic experience so far and the future looks brilliant. I don’t feel as though I’ve missed out on Uni social life as we have an active social and sports club at HMRC and a really well organised Fast Track network keeping all the apprentices connected.

And finally …

The Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeships for school leavers went live on Wednesday 28th February 2018. Find them on the Civil Service Jobs site and locally on Careersnearhere including a link to a step-by-step guide to the application process.

* In summary, there are three Civil Service Fast Track programmes available locally in Bristol this year and all are two-year level 4 / higher apprenticeships as follows –

Policy – working within teams to support the key phases of policy development, implementation and evaluation. The policy that you help to shape will influence the way people live their everyday lives. Alongside your exciting and challenging day job, you will be learning how policy is made and develop crucial skills and behaviours that will make you an excellent policy professional.

Business – a wide variety of posts central to the work of the Civil Service working in an exciting and fast-paced environment, developing valuable skills in organising, planning and problem-solving.

Finance – working with finance specialists to achieve strong financial management, ensuring value for money for the taxpayer whilst studying for a level 4 Finance qualification.

With huge thanks to Lydia, to the HMRC in Bristol and to the Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeships programme leadership.

Careersnearhere: It’s Your Future – Let’s Get It Started!

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