Civil Service Apprenticeship

Everything You Need to Know About Civil Service Apprenticeship

Last Updated on November 29, 2022

If you have ambitions to work for the Civil Service, there is a possibility of doing this through an apprenticeship.

But what is an apprenticeship? What is the Civil Service? Are there any eligibility requirements? How do you apply? What are the online tests and what’s on them? How do you prepare for these? What are the Assessment Centres?

All of these questions will be covered here, so keep reading to find out more!

What Is An Apprenticeship?

Apprenticeships give you the opportunity to learn through study for a professional accreditation whilst also being paid.

This allows for the apprentice to gain the right knowledge and understanding to progress into the relevant field once completed.

What Is The Civil Service?

fast-stream-assessment-centre

In short, the Civil Service is a collective term for a government sector made of people known as ‘civil servants.’ Civil Servants are hired through professional acumen as opposed to being elected or appointed.

It is their job to assist the government in developing and implementing the policies as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Types of jobs that exist within the civil service include:

  • Administrative support
  • Finance
  • Human resources
  • Office management

Often, civil service departments may be required to hire other professionals, including lawyers, engineers, doctors, nurses, surveyors, geologists, etc.

What Are The Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeships?

A popular way of joining the civil service is by doing the ‘Fast Track Apprenticeship Programme.’

As the wording suggests, this is a quick way to work your way through an apprenticeship in readiness for a job in the civil service whilst earning a competitive salary, which can be a rewarding alternative to going to university.

There are currently six different apprenticeship schemes available to apply for. They are:

  • Policy
  • Business
  • Commercial
  • Finance
  • Project Delivery
  • Digital and Technology

Here is a little bit more information about each scheme and what they’re about:

Policy

In a Fast Track Policy Apprenticeship you’ll learn to make recommendations based on evidence, taking into account political context and knowledge of the possible impacts.

The advice you give from these recommendations will allow decision-makers to have a clearer vision of how to best deliver government strategies.

Grades Required:

2 A levels, at grade D and above, and 5 GCSEs, at grade C and above, or the new grade 4 and above, including English Language and Maths (or equivalent).

Business

As a Business Fast Track Apprentice, you’ll help support teams in a wide range of tasks, as you’ll look to bring people together to achieve great results. Managing communications, coordinating activities, and working to improve processes are a taste of what you’ll be doing — all with a big customer focus.

Grades Required:

5 GCSEs, at grade C and above, or the new grade 4 and above, including English Language and Maths (or equivalent).

Commercial

Through the Commercial Fast Track Apprenticeship you’ll be looking to help the government deliver good value for money with its various commercial contracts.

This could involve helping to source and purchase new I.T. systems, or working on infrastructure projects such as rail or bus travel, ensuring that value for money is maintained through constructive contract management and savvy negotiation.

5 GCSEs, at grade C and above, or the new grade 4 and above, including English Language and Maths (or equivalent).

Grades Required:

5 GCSEs, at grade C and above, or the new grade 4 and above, including English Language and Maths (or equivalent).

Digital, Data, and Technology

The Digital, Data, and Technology Fast Track Apprenticeship is everything to do with computer services. This could involve such tasks as web development, data gathering, or coding and network engineering.

This role will be looking to ensure the government’s delivery of digital services is high performing and constantly improving.

Grades Required:

2 A levels, at grade C and above, and 5 GCSEs, at grade C and above, or the new grade 4 and above, including English Language and Maths (or equivalent).

Finance

With the Finance Fast Track Apprenticeship, you’ll be working with finance professionals to help with all things financial management within the government.

Delivering good value for money for the taxpayer is key – and day-to-day work could involve offering financial guidance, creating financial reports and instructions, as well as budgeting and helping to control costs.

Grades Required:

5 GCSEs, at grade C and above, or the new grade 4 and above, including English Language and Maths (or equivalent).

Project Delivery

Finally, there is the Project Deliver Fast Track Apprenticeship. Working and learning across a variety of roles which will include project risk analysis, building skills in project reporting and project budgeting.

You’ll learn all of this on the job with the help of experienced project delivery professionals.

Grades Required:

2 A levels, at grade D and above, and 5 GCSEs, at grade C and above, or the new grade 4 and above, including English Language and Maths (or equivalent).

Civil Service Apprenticeship Eligibility Requirements

Employer checking Cv

Before applying for a Fast Track Apprenticeship, it is important to check whether you meet the eligibility requirements and criteria. These are crucial to progressing with an apprenticeship and must be met.

Read below to find out what these are.

Age

You must be aged 16 or older. There is no upper age limit.

Qualifications

Most schemes require you to have at least five GCSEs at grade C and above, or the new grade 4 and above, including English Language and Maths, or equivalent.

As touched on earlier with the specific schemes, each one may vary slightly, with the Policy, Digital, Data, and Technology and Project Delivery Fast Track Apprenticeships also requiring two A levels. It is also worth noting that you must not have a degree.

There are other schemes for those that do have degrees, such as Fast Stream or the Civil Service graduate leadership development programme.

Nationality

You can apply for a Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship if you’re a:

A more detailed explanation of nationality requirements can be found in the Civil Service nationality rules.

Where You’ve Lived

There will be stringent security checks that all Civil Service Fast Track applicants must pass. You will need to have lived in the Uk for at least 2 of the last 10 years before submitting your application, including a 12-month continuous period.

There are some exemptions to these, which are:

Current Civil Servants will also still need to meet the eligibility requirements listed for each scheme.

How To Apply

application form on the laptop screen

Before applying, it is important to first consider which of the Fast Track Apprenticeship schemes you are most interested in, as well as the location that would suit you. You should also check the entry requirements, as talked about previously in this article.

If you meet them, then the way to apply is as follows:

  • Fill out an online application form
  • Do the online tests (We’d recommend working through practice tests online first)
  • Take part in a half-day assessment centre

Usually applications can be expected to open from early March to early April. Here is some more information about each part of the process.

Application Form

This is the starting point and should take around 20 to 30 minutes to complete online. It’s important to fill this out correctly, so take your time – the system allows you to save your progress should you need a break.

The information you’ll need to provide in this form includes:

  • Your favoured scheme(s) and location(s)
  • Your personal information
  • An opportunity to say if you require adjustments or assistance to enable you to complete the application process

You will also be asked to fill out an optional diversity questionnaire. Your application will not be affected whether you complete this segment or not.

Online Tests

After successfully submitting your application form, you will be sent an email invitation for the online tests, which you will have seven days to complete, which starts once you begin the first test.

The test is designed to determine your suitability as an applicant for the Fast Track programme. The results will determine whether you have been selected to progress onto the next stages of the assessment process.

The online tests must be taken on a laptop or PC, not a tablet or mobile phone. If you do not have access to these, asking a friend or relative could be a good option, or taking a trip to your local library.

There are three online tests to do, which are:

Competency Questionnaire

This should take around 30 minutes, but is not timed. The purpose of the test is to determine whether you have the competencies needed for the scheme. The test consists of statements to read and rate how well they describe you. There isn’t a practice test for this.

Situational Judgement

Situational Judgement should take around 30 minutes, but is not timed. The test gives four optional answers for 20 different scenarios, and you’ll need to select the most effective and least effective options for each scenario of an issue described.

You’ll then rate the effectiveness you think of each option. There are practice questionnaires available to help prepare for this.

Verbal and Numerical Reasoning

These are six minutes per exercise. These tests are built to assess your ability to work with verbal and numerical information. They are in multiple-choice format — 24 questions for the numerical part, and 36 for the verbal part. Practice questions are available.

Assessment Centre

If you are successful in passing the online test stage, you will then be offered the opportunity to attend a half-day assessment centre, which is held over various locations and dates.

The purpose of these is to find out how applicants will find being in the workplace. There will be required participation and multiple activities over the course of the day.

This should be treated no differently to a formal interview, with smart, formal clothing recommended and to behave in a professional manner.

You will be given a list beforehand of certain items you should bring, including exam certificates and ID paperwork.

What To Expect At The Assessment Centre

The day will be coordinated by trained staff, who will not have any information from your application, and are only there to assess how you perform on the day.

They will give you a variety of tasks that aim to give you a taste of what it will be like in the Fast Track Apprenticeship, as well as to gauge how you would perform on the scheme.

The assessments will include:

  • A written task – With a full explanation of what to do, you will have 40 minutes to complete this task. This could be writing a fictitious report to handling an issue, for example.
  • An interview – This will be done in a formal way, lasting around 45 minutes. This will include up to 12 competency and strength-based questions. It is a good idea to practice with common interview questions, with examples at the ready of your skills and experiences that you can give as answers.
  • Group Exercise – You will be put into a group of no more than six people for this, where you will be given a brief. In the brief will be a specific scenario and give information on the task at hand for you to work together on. Each member of the team will be allocated an individual brief. You will then have 40 minutes to talk about the objective, negotiate amongst yourselves and agree on a plan. The idea behind the group task is to assess teamwork and decision-making skills, and establish your ability to provide value for money, so it’s good to bear all of these in mind. You should not see this as a contest, but a chance to demonstrate how well you work with others.

How to Prepare For The Civil Service Apprenticeship

a young man Working

Whilst the tests are not overly difficult, here are some tips to ensure you answer all questions to the best of your ability:

  • Go to a quiet space with no distractions.
  • A pen, paper and calculator may be handy.
  • Make sure you read all test questions carefully, don’t rush.
  • Answer every question, you can’t skip or go back.
  • Check your internet connection is reliable.
  • Whilst nerves are completely normal, try to take the test when you are feeling as calm as possible.
  • Ensure you have enough time, at least an hour, for each test.

For both the Situational Judgement Test and Verbal and Numerical Reasoning Test, there are practice tests available online. We highly recommend you do a few.

This will help you get an understanding of the format and layout of the tests, as well as give you confidence going into the real thing.

Use Online Practice Materials

To help you prepare for tests like the ones described above, there is an excellent company called Job Test Prep.

They are experts in the field of preparing people for a wide range of tests, get straight to the point, and help you focus on gaining the information you need to pass the relevant tests.

They offer tailored practice materials for Civil Service Apprenticeships. Features they offer include:

  • Targeted practice drills
  • Material designed to improve the specific skills necessary to score high
  • Practice tests with real-time constraints to get you used to working under the time pressure
  • Proven tips to improve answering time
  • Accurate prep packs to help you know the test inside out

Conclusion

For those of you thinking about applying for a Civil Service Apprenticeship, we hope this article has helped guide you through the process involved, and you can go forth in confidence in what could be an exciting and rewarding career path opportunity.

Good luck!

Written by Ralph Levi

Ralph is a freelance writer specialising in the education and professional sector. With a Master’s degree and experience working in UK universities, Ralph enjoys guiding others up the career ladder.

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