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Inspiring the next generation of digital civil servants

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Earlier this month we welcomed a group of GCSE and A-Level computing students into GDS from north London comprehensive school Fortismere. This was part of the Tech Partnership’s Tech Week 2016 – a UK-wide event to inspire young people to make a career in digital.

The students spent a whole day with us, getting involved in activities and meeting people from across the organisation. We made a film to show what they did and what they thought about it.

Showing the reality

The idea of inviting these pupils to GDS came from Cordia Lewis, Engagement Lead on the Platform as a Service team. Rather than going into the school to talk about GDS, Cordia thought it would be much more interesting for the students to come here so we could give them a taste of what it’s really like.

We wanted to show them why government is such an exciting place to work if you’re interested in digital. And to prove that any preconceptions they might have about the Civil Service being boring or out-of-touch are wrong.

As one of the students told us: “Before today it would never cross my mind to work in government, but after seeing what they do, I’d enjoy working in a team, on projects that I know are going to help other people.”

Showing the fun

It was important that the students were able to meet people from across GDS doing very different jobs. They met designers, developers, product managers and user researchers, to name just a few. The students had the opportunity to talk to people from all of these areas and find out how they built their careers.

But, we wanted to make sure that our visitors had fun too. So we built Arduino robots and worked with the students to program them. Lots of people from GDS helped. Thanks to them all.

Showing the opportunity

We wanted to show the students that there’s an opportunity for everyone in the Civil Service. This is really important for us. As Stephen Foreshew-Cain says in his post What government might look like in 2030: “The best way [to build better government services] is to make sure that the diversity of the civil service reflects the diversity of the people we are here to serve.”

This is reflected in the Civil Service Talent Action Plan, which says: “Our aspiration for the Civil Service is an ambitious one – to be the UK’s most inclusive employer, representative of modern Britain and the public that we serve.”

We aim to meet this aspiration through schemes including apprenticeships and work experience, and also by showing as many people as possible what it’s really like to work in government. We hope this will be the first of many days to support our drive to attract more young people into government and to build a more diverse workforce.

To find out more about our work experience, apprenticeships or graduate programmes email the GDS Early Talent Team. You can also find more information at:

Video transcript:

Stephen Foreshew-Cain, Executive Director, GDS

We have quite a large skills gap not just in government but in the wider public sector. We see declining numbers in girls, for example, taking on stem subjects at school. So I think it’s really important to give young people the opportunity to experience the amazing work that government is doing.

Cordia Lewis, Engagement Lead, Platform as a Service

We need to attract more young people and one of the ways of doing that is to work with schools to let them know about the careers that are available. For Tech Week we brought 20 A Level students into GDS so they got a an idea of the breadth of roles across GDS.

Francisco Garcia De Paredes, student

Before today it would never cross my mind to work in government, but after seeing what they do, I’d enjoy working in a team on projects that I know are going to help other people.

Robbie Buxton, student

I like programming and I think it could be very interesting to work in that department.

Emmanuel Bugyei, student

Definitely I wasn’t expecting it to be like this. It’s just really cool here, it really opened my eyes. I’d love to work here.

Lydia Foteinopoulou, student

It’s actually inspired us to see different jobs and see other options that we haven’t seen before.

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