Every civil servant to receive specialist data training

All officials will undergo a day-long course

Credit: Mediamodifier/Pixabay

All civil servants will receive specialised data training this year, government’s most senior official has announced.

In his second annual lecture that was delivered in late January and has just been published online, cabinet secretary Simon Case “making better use of data… is an obsession of mine”.

Announcing that all civil servants will get a day of data training this year, he said: “Our data training is not just for specialists or graduates. It’s far too important for that. All civil servants – half a million of them, from apprentices right up to permanent secretaries – will this year complete at least one day of dedicated data training. And I know that doesn’t sound like a lot – one day of data training – but that’s 500,000 days of training in a year. Because we do need our data experts, the ‘ninjas’ as I call them. The reality is that every civil servant needs to be better equipped to use data in how they solve problems and design and deliver public services.”

The civil service chief also revealed that half of the next cohort of recruits to government’s graduate scheme will come from an academic background in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM).

Other changes to the Fast Stream programme this year include piloting regional schemes in northern England and updated training for new recruits to focus on digital, finance and commercial skills.

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Case also set out his desire for government to get better at “joined-up thinking” both between departments and with other sectors.

Getting more STEM graduates into the Fast Stream was one of three “fundamental changes” to the civil service graduate scheme outlined in Case’s speech, which was delivered in partnership with The Strand Group.

“Half of the next cohort will be STEM graduates: not just in a science and technology specialism, but in our generalist Fast Stream – half will be STEM graduates,” Case said. “We will bring in the brightest and best scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians from across the country into the heart of all the policymaking and design work around public service.”

To do this, the Fast Stream has launched a new pathway – “generalist – science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)” – to complement the “generalist” pathway. The scheme’s specialist digital, data and technology track already contributes about 100 graduates each year – a figure that is exceeded only by the project management specialism.

Case said the civil service is now piloting regional Fast Stream schemes in Darlington and Yorkshire and updating training for fast streamers to concentrate on foundational skills in digital, finance, and commercial.

Case did not mention reforms which were trumpeted by Rishi Sunak during last summer’s Conservative Party leadership election, however. During the election, the now-prime minister promised to reform the Fast Stream by mandating that a third of placements have an operations element and creating assessment centres in every region of the UK. Case did not mention these reforms in his speech.

Sam Trendall

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