Seven civil servants mentored year-12 students from All Saints Catholic High School in Kirkby on Merseyside as part of the Inspiring Young People programme. The volunteers came from departments as varied as the National Offender Management Service (NOMS), the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), the General Register Office and Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Over the course of six weeks, they took the students on a tour of government offices and spoke of their positive experiences of working in the Civil Service. They told the students about various methods of looking for work and how to fill-in job application forms, as well as stressing the importance of dressing smartly and being on time for interviews and jobs. They also spoke about setting career goals and how to achieve them by overcoming barriers that might arise.
This innovative and exciting project is part of a larger programme of work aimed at offering civil servants a challenging developmental opportunity while delivering the Civil Service Reform plan and supporting our local communities. It gives staff the chance to develop competencies and learn skills that their usual job might not offer. An important part of each project is being creative outside the normal Civil Service environment and mindset. A creative approach to problem-solving and new ways to engage people and build relationships are essential skills that volunteers take back to their workplaces.
Katie Ratcliffe, one of the students' mentors, said that team work and communication were important to delivering the message of job-readiness. Katie, who works for DWP, hadn’t been sure what to expect from the programme, and she said it was a challenge to integrate civil servants from different departments into one team.
The best thing about the programme was seeing the students gain more confidence over the weeks and moving them towards work, and offering advice and experience. The students were excellent and interacted with some of us on a one-to-one basis.
The volunteers were absolutely fantastic. They provided excellent advice and guidance for our students, establishing relationships that gave the students confidence and made them feel they were making progress on the programme.
Margaret O’Neill, a teacher at the school
Margaret believes that the programme has better prepared the students for the world of work. Their final task at the end of the six weeks was to travel to a Civil Service office in Liverpool to attend mock job interviews. Margaret said:
The mock interviews not only helped them work on competency-based questions, but the whole exercise of them getting to the office, on time, on their own and dressed for interview was extremely beneficial. Three students obtained six-week paid internships two days after the end of the programme.
This Civil Service Local programme has delivered tangible benefits for members of a local community and provided career-improving developmental opportunities for civil servants. Why don’t you get involved in the next one?