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Forging a Career in the Civil Service: Rupert McNeil’s Keynote Speech

Last week, The Institute for Government welcomed Rupert McNeil, Government Chief People Officer, to deliver a keynote speech on Forging a career in the Civil Service - how Whitehall attracts, manages and retains talent.

The event, sponsored by Oracle, welcomed both Civil Servants and companies currently working within Government to hear about the work taking place in the Civil Service presently and the priorities for the future, along with the opportunity to ask further questions.

Rupert immediately highlighted the importance of the HR function in attracting the very best of talent into the Civil Service. He stated that a great place to work attracts great talent which ultimately leads to great outcomes. During his speech, two key priorities for Civil Service HR emerged:

1) Improving diversity

The creation of an ‘environment of inclusion’ is top on the agenda within the Civil Service with the ambition to be the UK's most inclusive employer by 2020. Research is currently looking into how to target ethnic minorities along with those with disabilities – the two most underrepresented groups within Government. The benefits to the business of increased diversity cannot be underestimated, but in addition to this, creating an environment where each individual can feel like they are valued and can flourish at work regardless of their race or religion is extremely important for individual happiness and morale. Since 2010, representations of ethnic minorities within the Civil Service have continued to increase and making sure this is reflected across all departments and all professions will remain a high priority.

2) Retaining staff

Voted the 2nd best graduate employer in 2017, it is safe to say that the Civil Service are fairly good at attracting talent! Harder however, is retaining this talent. The second key priority stated is to reduce staff turnover and thus retain Civil Servants. Rupert highlighted the importance of setting clear progression targets and being transparent about potential career/development opportunities. He stated the need to ‘define functional career pathways’ to ensure that individuals are fully aware of what the professional standards are within the Civil Service and what experiences as well as skills are needed to progress.

Also mentioned, was the role of technology and artificial intelligence within Government departments and the need to respond to technology, allowing it to enhance and empower skill. Rupert strongly emphasized that people are the champions of change and that technology will assist but not replace Civil Service staff.

Forging a career in the Civil Service provided a detailed account of the progress the HR function has made so far, what is currently happening within Whitehall and what the immediate future will focus its efforts on. For more information, a full recording of the event can be found here:


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