Government ‘mentor service’ to match up civil servants

Data-processing notice alludes to new platform for pairing up potential mentors and mentees

Credit: Dominic Lipinski/PA Archive/Press Association Images

A new government service for matching civil servants interested in mentoring or being mentored is being prepared by the Cabinet Office, it is understood.

Earlier this week, the Cabinet Office published online official privacy-notice guidance for what personal data will be gathered by the “civil service mentor service” and how it will be processed by the Civil Service HR function housed within the department.

The notice outlines that users of the service will provide data on their name, address, department, job role and grade. They will also submit details of areas of expertise or interest, any previous experience of mentoring, and geographic regions to which they would be willing to travel.

The service will then “compare and match individuals who apply to become mentors and mentees”, according to the guidance. Anonymised data on prospective mentors or mentees may be shared, but contact details will only be shared once people have been matched.

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Details of how the matching service will work in practice – such as the extent to which it will be manual or automated – are thin on the ground, and the Cabinet Office declined to comment for this article.

But an in-house government mentoring service is understood to have been in the works for some time. 

Earlier this year, about 7,000 users were saddened to hear of the closure of the Mentor Match platform for helping civil servants forge mentoring relationships.

The site, which ran for two and half years, closed after hosting costs became prohibitively high for what was a registered charity – entirely run and funded by its four civil-servant founders: Bryony Taylor, Alys Cook, Andrew Wilkinson, and Andrew Whitten. 

It is understood that, prior to taking the decision to close the site, the Mentor Match team had discussions with officials to try and find an ongoing home the service with government. But, ultimately, the Cabinet Office declined to adopt the platform and decided, instead, to proceed with the development of its own mentoring offering, as part of the Learning Platform for Government programme being rolled out by Civil Service Learning.

In a statement issued to PublicTechnology in January, a Cabinet Office spokesperson said: “We plan to provide further mentoring opportunities via Civil Service Learning in the future.”

The new guidance on the planned activities of the civil service mentor service – which PublicTechnology has been led to understand was published in error, and may be taken down presently – suggests that a new in-house service is nearly ready for launch. More details are expected to come out of the Cabinet Office in the coming weeks and months.


Sam Trendall

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