What types of jobs and employers are there in public service?

What types of jobs and employers are there in public service?
Find out about the work of the Civil Service, local authorities and intelligence agencies such as MI5, and the kinds of roles on offer to school leavers and graduates.

The UK government consists of more than 20 ministerial departments plus a similar number of non-ministerial departments as well as more than 300 agencies and other public bodies. This complex and wide-ranging network of organisations offers plenty of scope for employment and progression, both for school leavers and for graduates from all degree backgrounds. Alternatively, there are more than 400 local authorities in the UK, delivering services to communities everywhere from remote rural locations to major cities.

Working for central or local government

Want to work for central government? Consider applying for the Civil Service, which does the practical and administrative work of government. The highly sought-after Civil Service Fast Stream recruits graduates to work in in many different roles in a range of government departments, with specialist programmes in everything from providing the government with statistics to training to work in the Houses of Parliament. In the past, the Civil Service has run a 'fast track apprenticeship scheme'.

Around half of all civil servants are involved in providing services directly to the public, such as paying benefits and pensions, running employment services, staffing prisons and issuing driving licences. Other civil servants work on the development and implementation of government policy and include analysts and project managers. The Civil Service is politically impartial and independent of government.

Professionals from a range of specialist backgrounds, such as lawyers and scientists, are recruited to work for central government. Recognised professions within the Civil Service cover areas such as corporate finance, tax, IT, communication, internal audit, planning inspection and social research.

The Government Legal Profession employs lawyers, including trainee solicitors and pupil barristers, to provide the government with legal advice and help prepare proposals for new laws. Engineering, science and IT graduates can apply to work for the Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG), part of the Ministry of Defence, which seeks to improve the technology used by the UK’s armed forces.

Alternatively, you might want to work in local government, playing a part in delivering services to people in a particular location. Local authorities employ staff in strategic roles, such as devising policy; support services, such as human resources and finance; and frontline delivery of services to the public, such as housing. There are roles suitable for both graduates and school leavers.

Working for the intelligence agencies: MI5, MI6 and GCHQ

MI5, the Security Service, protects national security, safeguards the economic well-being of the UK and supports law enforcement agencies in the prevention of serious crime. It runs graduate schemes for intelligence officers, intelligence and data analysts and for technology.

MI6, the Secret Intelligence Service, is responsible for obtaining secret information and conducting operations in support of the UK’s foreign policy objectives. It recruits both graduates and non-graduates into areas such as intelligence, business support, language specialisms and science and technology.

GCHQ (Government Communications Headquarters) protects the UK from online threats from criminals and terrorists. It offers roles in areas ranging from mathematics and cryptography to language analysis and project management, and runs both graduate and higher apprenticeship schemes.

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