Civil service seeks ‘leaders of the future’ with four-year scheme for aspiring digital professionals

The DDaT Fast Stream scheme will involve placements in up to six government departments

A number of roles on the Fast Stream programme will see successful candidates working directly with GDS boss Kevin Cunnington  Credit: GDS

The government is hoping to identify “the leaders of the future” with a four-year programme for aspiring digital, data, and technology (DDaT) civil servants.

On Thursday 14 September, applications will open for the DDaT component of the civil service’s Fast Stream scheme. The programme is aimed at graduates and existing members of the civil service interested in moving into a different job function. 

During the four-year initiative, successful applicants will take part in as many as six placements in different government departments in various locations around the country. 

Kevin Cunnington, director general of the Government Digital Service, said: “On the DDaT Fast Stream, participants gain a rich grounding in many different areas of digital. A typical placement might include innovative, large-scale and complex projects in fields like artificial intelligence, cybersecurity, data analytics and data science, or robotics.” 

He added: “You might be involved in user research, or building web services and creating content for websites. You’ll also have the chance to train in agile methodologies at the GDS Academy. With the expertise you gain, you may even end up advising ministers on digital, data and technology policies.” 

The GDS head added that the programme is dedicated to increasing diversity in the UK government.

“It’s vital that we attract candidates that represent UK society as a whole. This means appealing to diverse candidates across all backgrounds,” he said. “We’ve made progress in improving who we recruit in this respect… But we know there’s much more that can, and should, be done. And we’re doing our best to fix it.”

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The Fast Stream initiative will include some roles dedicated to working directly with Cunnington. Many of those who have previously undertaken those posts have gone on “to rewarding roles in the civil service”, the GDS chief said.

The programme will provide candidates with a wide-ranging skill set that could serve them well in a number of professions, across both the public and private sector, said Cunnington.

But he concluded: “Although the Fast Stream is a four-year commitment, we see it as the first chapter of an exciting long-term career in the modern civil service. Thanks to initiatives such as the GDS Academy, which allow you to continuously develop your knowledge and expertise as you progress, there will never be a point where your learning comes to a halt.”

The application process begins with various online tests, including two questionnaires, a virtual inbox exercise, and a video interview. If all of these are successfully passed, candidates will be invited to fill out and submit an application form. 

Selected applicants will then be invited to complete a half-day assessment in either London or Newcastle. This will take in a number of exercises to assess candidates’ leadership capabilities, group work, and analytical skills.

The concluding stage of the recruitment process will see applicants asked to come to Westminster for a specially designed final assessment of their aptitude and motivation for taking part in the scheme.


Sam Trendall

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