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Whether you’re looking for your first job or to change career, the Civil Service could be the answer

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WHATEVER your interest – from the environment to keeping our country safe – the Civil Service has a department to match.

For these three people, it turned out to be just the job…

Inspired to inspire others

Pru Orridge, 43, lives in Cardiff. She is the customs fraud lead in HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) Fraud Investigation Service and the HMRC race network lead in Wales.

I was born and brought up in Tanzania in Africa and I came to Wales in 1996 to finish my education. I joined HMRC as an administrative assistant in 2005.

Once I saw what HMRC was all about, I never wanted to leave. I was working with amazing, friendly people who I really admired, and I made good friends.

At first, it was all about basic admin tasks, but I was quickly promoted to more senior roles until, finally, in March last year, I landed my current position as customs fraud lead in the Fraud Investigation Service [FIS].

It’s not always glamorous – there are no dawn raids or exciting goods seizures – but our job is to use our knowledge to lead the FIS to serious customs fraud.

The FIS is an area of the Civil Service where black and Asian minorities tend not to see people who look like them. I remember once hearing my brother

tell his friend to apply for an executive officer job and his friend said, “Black people don’t get promoted.” My brother shot back, “My sister’s a senior officer.” His friend’s face – he couldn’t believe it!

But it’s true, I am. I’m also the customs race lead in Wales, and we ensure equality of opportunity for colleagues regardless of their ethnicity.

We’ve set up mentoring and coaching schemes and sponsorship arrangements with help from senior leaders.

For people thinking about the Civil Service, to see someone like me, from Africa, who has come here and is now working at a senior level for a government department, it is kind of inspiring.

Off to a bright start

Amber Warne, 19, is a campaign manager for the Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO) in London.

I’d always envisioned myself going to university, but when I started to apply, the cost and associated debt weighed heavily on my mind.

I had always wanted to work in communications, so I was delighted to discover that I could apply for the Government Communication Service (GCS) apprenticeship.

I’d never written a CV or had any corporate interviews before so I was nervous, but I did lots of practice and research. The apprenticeship was ideal for me. There were so many opportunities to learn and get stuck in.

In Government there is something for everyone, and the apprenticeship offers you life skills and lessons that I couldn’t have learnt in a lecture hall.

I joined the apprenticeship at 18 and as a young person starting their career, I expected people would doubt me and my lack of experience, but that was not the case at all.

The GCS is full of amazing resources. I have been able to attend courses to develop my professional skills and build the foundations of my career. You never stop learning.

Webinars, training sessions, there is something for everyone and every day is different.

I’m now a campaign manager working with two teams in the FCDO, on climate campaigns (given it’s the Government’s COP26 presidency year) and on the Great UK Challenge Fund.

Working within the Civil Service has been brilliant for me. I was just 18 and working in the strategic communications team on Covid-19 and COP26 – where else is that possible?

I’ve been pushed out of my comfort zone and forced to challenge myself. There is a level of job satisfaction that is unattainable in other careers – knowing that the work I do helps people and makes a difference.

Starting the GCS apprenticeship was the best decision I have made – don’t hesitate to apply.

Helping people to help themselves

Ben Stuart, 27, is a senior policy adviser for the Debt Respite Scheme at HM Treasury in Darlington.

I grew up in Birkenhead and came from a pretty working-class family. My dad is a policeman and my mum works for the council, so the idea of service was always there.

I went to a good local school and the University of York before joining the Civil Service Fast Stream programme. I now work in the Financial Services Group within the Treasury as a senior policy adviser for the Debt Respite Scheme.

There are two elements to the scheme, Breathing Space and the Statutory Debt Repayment Plan.

Both are part of the Government’s commitment to help people in debt get on a more secure footing with their finances.

It’s a brilliant thing to work on because it’s a great combination of social and economic policy and it’s very obvious how it’s going to benefit people and have a swift impact.

I didn’t think I’d be able to do something this important so soon in my career. It is a perfect role for me – challenging and rewarding.

I wake up looking forward to work because I’m making a difference to people’s lives. And there are always surprises.

Last week, I went for a meeting at 1 Horse Guards in London, where the Treasury is based. It was a little surreal!

I never thought it was possible for someone like me to do what I do now.

The Civil Service is only going to get more diverse and more reflective of the country as a whole and I think that will lead to better policies being made.

Is there a role for you?

Here are just some of the areas you could work in with the Civil Service:

  • Digital data and technology
  • Communications
  • Finance
  • Legal
  • International trade and negotiations
  • Human resources
  • Counter-fraud and security
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