Insights on the Civil Service Care Leaver Internship Scheme

On Thursday, young people and referral partners were invited to join us for an insightful breakfast morning dedicated to the Civil Service Care Leaver Internship Scheme.

Since the publication of the governments ‘Keep on Caring’ strategy in 2016, several government departments have delivered on their responsibility to play a greater role in offering work experience, apprenticeships, internship and job opportunities to care-experienced young people. In 2019, there will be about ring-fenced 150 internships across 17 departments available.

With 12 of Drive Forward’s young people gaining a sought-after internship in 2018, we’re aiming to increase the number of successful applicants this year. To spread the word and make young people as well as their workers more aware of what these opportunities entail, we were joined by Severine, a young person who started with the Department of Defence earlier this year, and Gurdawar Jassi from the Department for Education.

Sharing her experiences, Severine was able to shed some light onto the long-winding application process and break up some misconceptions about working for the civil service.

“I initially applied for the lower-grade administrative role as I wanted to play it safe. After my first interview, I received an email saying that I had been invited to interview for the higher-grade SEO level role! I thought they had emailed the wrong person,” remembers Severine. A young mother herself, she particularly stressed the fact that many Departments are now offering their employees flexi-time, which means that individuals are able to organise their working week according to their personal needs.

“Line managers of participating Departments know that care leavers often face additional challenges. They know that people may have to go and see their Personal Advisor at some point or sort out a pressing housing issue”, says Gurdawar Jassi. His Department was the first government agency to sign up to the scheme and both care leavers who completed internships in 2016-17 secured permanent jobs within the Civil Service.

Severine highly appreciates the security and flexibility the Civil Service provides, “Once I’ve passed my probation, I’ll further be able to work from home two days a week. This means that I’ll be able to spend much more time with my daughter whilst pursuing a promising career.”

Furthermore, Drive Forward candidates have a much larger pool of support at their disposal including continuous access to their Employment Consultant and a professional mentor outside the Civil Service to provide an independent source of advice. On top of that, we’ve put a peer support group into place, offering individuals an extra layer of support.

So, could the scheme be for you or a young person you work with?

What makes the scheme so outstanding is the fact that no qualifications are required. Anyone between the ages of 18 and 30, who qualifies as a care leaver[1] and is able to provide proof of can apply. Gurdawar further stressed the fact that having a criminal record, for example, doesn’t disqualify individuals from gaining an internship, “I wouldn’t discourage anyone from applying.”

In short, the the Civil Service Care Leaver Internship Scheme offers young people, with and without qualifications, a fantastic opportunity to kick-start their career and build a positive future for themselves. They will be supported all the way from filling in the application form, to the interview and throughout the time they are in the job. Another important thing to mention is the fact that working for the civil service means being an active part of what shapes and develops this country.

Severine notes, “The best thing about my job is that I have a certain level of control over who joins the Department. Like this, I can actively contribute to creating fairer access for under-represented groups.”

To learn more about the internship and application process get in touch with Megan at or call our offices at 0207 620 300.

You can also check out a previous blog post with example questions here.

[1] To qualify as a care leaver an individual must have been in care for a minimum of 13 weeks, some of which must have been after their 16th birthday.

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