Ask the head of the Civil Service Fast Stream, Greg Hobbs, anything! Watch

Puddles the Monkey
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Read all the questions and Greg's answers here >>


Hello!

Greg Hobbs, head of the Civil Service is coming to TSR to answer your questions. Ask him (almost!) anything by replying to this thread.



We will then be publishing the responses next week. :woo:

Here's some more info about the Fast Stream:

The Fast Stream is our award-winning leadership development programme, where people with the potential to reach the highest levels of the Civil Service build rewarding careers. The programme provides high-quality learning and responsibility from day one, and many schemes offer professional qualifications.

Fast Streamers of all ages and from diverse backgrounds work in the Civil Service, in roles offered by government departments across 15 different professions. Every one of them benefits from supportive peer networks, a great social life around work, and flexible working that enables work-life balance.

Find out more at: www.faststream.gov.uk
Last edited by Puddles the Monkey; 3 months ago
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Puddles the Monkey
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Heya,

I am just quoting in everyone who has posted in the Civil Service Fast Stream thread as this might be useful for you You can ask the head of the civil service fast stream your questions and get a reply by posting in this thread.

Spoiler:
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GW243
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Hi - can you give fairly detailed advice about political freedom in the civil service?

Obviously, a civil servant can't be a member of a party, actively campaign or comment publically on political issues, but what about attending events as a private citizen in their free time? This may range from protests to lobby-group funded events/conferences. I guess I'm emphasising that it is perfectly possible to go to some events without sharing the beliefs of those around you, but what is the civil service take on it?

Also - and this may sound stupid - but what about chatting down the pub and social media? Personally, I would think that being politically active on social media is probably too close to making public comment, but do they have to watch what they say in person as well? (Of course, I mean chat that is unrelated to their position, job, or information gathered while at the job).


I hope this question isn't at all inappropriate or stupid, but I find being engaged in politics (in a non-partisan way) is a sure way of staying abreast of important and relevent current events and developing yourself as a citizen, but with engagement comes debate and opinions and I'm not sure where the civil service draws their lines.

Thank you for your time!
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Toolson
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Hi,


The “cluster” system is a recent change to your generalist fast stream. Are you concerned that this narrowing of scope will have an adverse impact on the generalist nature of this stream, and limit the sectors that future grade 7s emanating from this scheme will be able to work in? Does this, and the introduction of more specialist streams in recent years, reflect a wider trend in the civil service away from generalists and towards specialists?

Also, how will you ensure the allocation of generalist fast streamers to these clusters is fair? Will the process be mostly a matter of luck or will the skills and experiences of future fast streamers be considered?

Many thanks for your time.
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Vexper
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Hi - as it's been highlighted by the media on many occasions in the past, what steps are you taking to ensure the majority of successful Fast Stream applicants aren't just from the upper tier Russell Group universities, particularly Oxford and Cambridge? As this is the case for a long time now, there must be entrenched bias in the recruitment process that is not being dealt with appropriately. This is before there's even a consideration for diversity outside of where you received your grades.

In addition, how do you plan to keep Fast Streamers within the Civil Service after, and during the Fast Stream - as there's been a high percentage of Fast Streamers reported leaving, both during and after the process, often with the destination of the private sector.
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BEllenK
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Hi,

Is it possible and/or common for people to move from the private sector into the public sector later in their career? And if they do what is the transition like? It is an easy transition to make?

Many thanks
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Reality Check
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Thanks for taking the time to come onto TSR like this.

What is the CS's approach towards mature graduates and career changers, particularly those who apply to the Fast Stream? What tips could you give to these groups specifically to improve their chances of success?
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princessmaire80
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Do you actively recruit those with disabilities into the Fast Stream as despite having two degrees and doing a third via distance learning I can only get offers for low grade entry level posts and seem to get ignored for Fast Stream! (4 attempts now)
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jonathanjames
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How quickly does/can your salary progress from joining the fast stream?
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Mimma
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Is it fair that completing the generalist stream (and others I imagine) is linked to a G7 promotion but the analytical streams are not?

Why do more departments not want fast streamers these days (e.g. HMT making their own graduate scheme and BEIS following)? Is it the randomness and short posting length or something else?
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Quiet Benin
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This is going to be an unusual response.

Why is it so goddamn hard to succeed in an application for fast stream. In fact why is it hard to even apply for a normal civil service job.

I have given hope on this potential career, i feel its for the elite. I am a hard working black person, yes im about to probably graduate with a 2:2 but i am hardworking and have a passion. Why is it that i feel you, both with fast stream and any other civil service programme, the job accepts the elite. I look at the linkedin profiles, most who work for fast stream went to oxford or cambridge or nottingham. come on man
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username3973192
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When are you going to start taking on more people from ethnic minority backgrounds? :listen:
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Cambridge18
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(Original post by Vexper)
Hi - as it's been highlighted by the media on many occasions in the past, what steps are you taking to ensure the majority of successful Fast Stream applicants aren't just from the upper tier Russell Group universities, particularly Oxford and Cambridge? As this is the case for a long time now, there must be entrenched bias in the recruitment process that is not being dealt with appropriately. This is before there's even a consideration for diversity outside of where you received your grades.

In addition, how do you plan to keep Fast Streamers within the Civil Service after, and during the Fast Stream - as there's been a high percentage of Fast Streamers reported leaving, both during and after the process, often with the destination of the private sector.
Hi, thanks for asking this question. I just wanted to offer my thoughts on your post/question before it is put to Greg Hobbs. I hope that's ok. My thoughts don't relate to the SDIP which specifically aims to attract and support candidates from diverse backgrounds and educational institutions.

I tick many boxes for diversity (!) and was welcomed by Cambridge Uni purely on academic merit. I juggled work with my Masters studies to support my family and I found the University to be really diverse and inclusive. I come from a disadvantaged background and had support with disability and with being a single carer, amongst other things. I enjoyed being surrounded by brilliant minds and cutting edge research and found that it didn't matter what my background was, as I was judged purely on my competency and commitment. To me, it seems obvious why the Fast Stream still has significant numbers of Russell Group and Oxbridge students; the Civil Service rewards hard work and merit so naturally this attracts students who have been performing for many years and have had to pass multiple selections and assessments. My friends at Cambridge University represented every echelon of society and many had overcome numerous personal challenges to be there, and to be performing at the kind of level and pace the civil service also requires. I enjoyed taking the Fast Stream assessments because it felt fair, and, like other recruiters, didn't consider my background or my university, but assessed me on whether I met the competencies.

I welcome debate around this, but in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the Fast Stream selecting many candidates from top universities which have already selected students based on hard work and talent rather than background.
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Aox
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Hello, thank you for taking the time to answer some of our questions.

My question is, do you think the general public has a good understanding of what the Civil Service's role is?

I'm interested in joining the Civil Service but often when I bring it up, people are unsure of what they actually do.

If you do think it's a problem, do you have any plans to address it?
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Alex!!
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As a current Civil Servant involved heavily with staff engagement I do feel I should highlight the majority of staff in my directorate and wider feel that the Civil Service does anything but reward hard work and merit. In fact this is often the opposite, with quite frankly the wrong people for the job being promoted. This systematic problem has been acknowledged by the SCS hence the newly introduced Success Profiles recruitment system, designed to improve hardworking and capable staff being recognised and placed in the right roles. I would love to think that this will make a difference and think it has the capability to, however it is dependent on the role holders embracing the new system and a total shift in culture I expect will take years.

I imagine the reason Oxbridge candidates do so well is that the rigorous applications process in applying to Oxbridge and the mental strength needed to complete your course there reward exactly the same skills we want (and test during the application process!) for the Fast Stream - leadership, adaptability, decision making etc. There will always be a higher proportion of successful candidates from the top universities for exactly this reason - so maybe this isn't the best factor to measure with regards social mobility.

For some context I also tick many boxes (disabled, carer, female, low socio-economic background) who has been successful on the Fast Stream - however I never even applied to Oxbridge and have no affiliation to it whatsoever.
(Original post by Cambridge18)
Hi, thanks for asking this question. I just wanted to offer my thoughts on your post/question before it is put to Greg Hobbs. I hope that's ok. My thoughts don't relate to the SDIP which specifically aims to attract and support candidates from diverse backgrounds and educational institutions.

I tick many boxes for diversity (!) and was welcomed by Cambridge Uni purely on academic merit. I juggled work with my Masters studies to support my family and I found the University to be really diverse and inclusive. I come from a disadvantaged background and had support with disability and with being a single carer, amongst other things. I enjoyed being surrounded by brilliant minds and cutting edge research and found that it didn't matter what my background was, as I was judged purely on my competency and commitment. To me, it seems obvious why the Fast Stream still has significant numbers of Russell Group and Oxbridge students; the Civil Service rewards hard work and merit so naturally this attracts students who have been performing for many years and have had to pass multiple selections and assessments. My friends at Cambridge University represented every echelon of society and many had overcome numerous personal challenges to be there, and to be performing at the kind of level and pace the civil service also requires. I enjoyed taking the Fast Stream assessments because it felt fair, and, like other recruiters, didn't consider my background or my university, but assessed me on whether I met the competencies.

I welcome debate around this, but in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the Fast Stream selecting many candidates from top universities which have already selected students based on hard work and talent rather than background.
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Alex!!
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Hi Gregg,

What steps are you taking to increase the volume of posts outside of London and satisfy your commitment to provide reasonable adjustments for those successful candidates with relocation restrictions due to caring responsibilities/disabilities?

Thank you.
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Quady
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Greg
1) What proportion of fast stream entrants progress directly to Grade 7 following the scheme?
2) What proportion of fast streamers go on to become SCS? (as you have)
3) Has the relative drop in starting salary over the last decade compared to other 'Times100 graduate schemes' affected the calibre of external applicants?
4) If the Civil Service wishes to become more representative of society, why does the fast stream have a degree requirement for external applicants?
5) What are the success factors that are measured for the Fast Stream?
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Vexper
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(Original post by Cambridge18)
Hi, thanks for asking this question. I just wanted to offer my thoughts on your post/question before it is put to Greg Hobbs. I hope that's ok. My thoughts don't relate to the SDIP which specifically aims to attract and support candidates from diverse backgrounds and educational institutions.

I tick many boxes for diversity (!) and was welcomed by Cambridge Uni purely on academic merit. I juggled work with my Masters studies to support my family and I found the University to be really diverse and inclusive. I come from a disadvantaged background and had support with disability and with being a single carer, amongst other things. I enjoyed being surrounded by brilliant minds and cutting edge research and found that it didn't matter what my background was, as I was judged purely on my competency and commitment. To me, it seems obvious why the Fast Stream still has significant numbers of Russell Group and Oxbridge students; the Civil Service rewards hard work and merit so naturally this attracts students who have been performing for many years and have had to pass multiple selections and assessments. My friends at Cambridge University represented every echelon of society and many had overcome numerous personal challenges to be there, and to be performing at the kind of level and pace the civil service also requires. I enjoyed taking the Fast Stream assessments because it felt fair, and, like other recruiters, didn't consider my background or my university, but assessed me on whether I met the competencies.

I welcome debate around this, but in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with the Fast Stream selecting many candidates from top universities which have already selected students based on hard work and talent rather than background.
The problem with this view is that these circumstances are simply not exclusive to candidates from such universities and there are far more factors to consider. Please don't sully the thread with stuff like this, it just clouds the issue. Let an actual authority on the subject go into further detail and do not derail the topic.
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Visual_Learner
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What skills do you need to work in the industry?

What is the first piece of advice you would give a potential employee hoping to break into the industry?
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Melora =^.^=
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If you look at the Fast Stream website there is guidance on how to apply for the schemes and what the process involves.
(Original post by Visual_Learner)
What skills do you need to work in the industry?

What is the first piece of advice you would give a potential employee hoping to break into the industry?
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