Grads seek security in public sector

Deputy News Editor 27 November 2008

The rate of applications to the civil service has increased this year by 22%.

Sir Gus O’Donnell, the Cabinet Secretary, has said that this rise is linked to the perceived difficulty

in obtaining a job in finance

and the private sector in general.

“They don’t want to work in banking anymore,” he told the Daily Telegraph.

The departments which have witnessed the greatest increase in applications are the NHS management training, the Foreign

and Commonwealth Office (FCO), the Teach First Scheme, local government, Transport for London, the Met Office, and the MI5.

Many students are looking for routes into finance that do not involve a banking career. Rosie Coombs, a second year Girtonian,

told The Cambridge Student (TCS):

“I want to go into finance. Yet, since the economy is so bad at the moment, I am seriously considering

applying to the National Audit Office or the FSA.”

Another student, who wishes to remain nameless, said:

“I see the Civil Service as just a stepping stone to other sectors. I’m worried now I won’t find a job at all.”

The current credit crisis is seen as one of the main causes for this increase, as graduands seek sectors that are more stable than banking.

The government has responded

to the crisis by creating new jobs in the public sector. The Centre for Economic and Business

Research says that in the second half of 2008, 50,000 jobs have been created in the public sector.

However, Gordon Chesterman, the director of the Cambridge Careers

sector says that obtaining a job in this sector is “hellishly competitive”.He suggested that students must be very careful in their applications.

“It’s a very attractive career path, but they are keen to recruit from all top universities, .

“It can be as competitive as banking. Last year the Civil Service

received 764 applications from those with a Cambridge degree

with 49 being offers made.”

Chesterman notes that the Civil Service targets “45 universities,”

and whilst “Oxbridge still supply a third of all Fast Streamers

” there has been “more focus on post 1992 Universities.”

The career service suggest that graduates interested in the civil service should research the area which they want to go into.

They should also avoid errors in the application forms, “students

are turned down for silly errors,” said Chesterman.

Each year the Civil Service receives

13,500 applicants for just 300 places. In order to obtain a job “students must demonstrate delivery skills, intellectual capacity

and interpersonal skills” on the online application form.

Those who are successful in this preliminary stage, of which there are usually 3,000, can take part in the numerical and verbal tests.

Those who satisfy the conditions

to pass this test are then invited to the assessment centre.

Chesterman told TCS that the number of applicants “will include a large proportion of Cambridge alumni – people who have done something else after Cambridge – not just last year’s finalists. The average age of applicants

was 27.

“The Civil Service are keen to target those with a few years experience

post graduation – they make for better recruits with higher chances of success at assessment


Alexander Glasner

Deputy News Editor