Public service, charity and social work

Sector menu

GCHQ, Ministry of Justice, MI5... graduate Civil Service careers

GCHQ, Ministry of Justice, MI5... graduate Civil Service careers

Find out about the key routes into a graduate career in government and public administration, including the Civil Service Fast Stream and recruitment by GCHQ and the intelligence services, MI5 and MI6.

The Civil Service is responsible for implementing the government policies of the day and it is a major employer. There are currently 25 recognised professions within the Civil Service, ranging from IT to intelligence analysis, working in numerous government departments and agencies.

Graduate schemes in the Civil Service

The Civil Service Fast Stream prepares high-flying graduates for senior management posts in the Civil Service. It’s open to graduates from all degree disciplines and there are opportunities to specialise in a wide variety of areas. Degree requirements vary. Graduates can join one of the following generalist streams:

  • Generalist
  • Diplomatic service
  • Houses of Parliament
  • Science and engineering

There are also several specialist fast streams:

Commercial: aims to give you the experience needed for a commercial leadership role in the public sector. 

Finance: you'll become a professionally qualified accountant and help shape the government's financial policy, ensuring that costs are controlled and that public services are delivered effectively and efficiently.

European: allows you to use your language skills to work towards a permanent career in European Union (EU) institutions or to specialist in EU issues in the UK Cvil Service.

Human resources: you'll help to build a capable and flexible workforce and build in areas such as talent management, employee relations and engagement. 

Government communication service: you'll inform and educate the public, working in areas such as media relations, campaigns and marketing, digital communications or international communications.

Digital and technology: you'll help to transform the ways citizens access government services, gaining experience in areas such as strategy and policy, operations, delivery and product design. 

Project delivery: you'll work on different types of projects, such as digital, IT, transformation or infrastructure. For example, you might be involved in a project to build a new hospital or aircraft carrier.

There are other options available in the group of Fast Stream programmes referred to as analytical schemes. These schemes involve training to work for the following services:

Government Economic Service: provides expert economic advice across a range of government departments and agencies.

Government Operational Research Service: supports policy-making, strategy and operations by applying scientific methods to management problems. This often involves building mathematical models to predict system behaviour. 

Government Statistical Service: provides the government with statistical information to help policy-making.

Government Social Research Service: produces social research to underpin government policy in areas such as health, crime, work, pensions, education and transport.

Graduate careers in intelligence

The Security Service (MI5): protects national security, safeguards the economic well-being of the UK and supports law enforcement agencies in the prevention of serious crime. There are three graduate schemes:

  • Intelligence officer development programme (IODP)
  • Intelligence and data analyst development programme (I&DADP)
  • Technology graduate development programme (TGDP)

The Secret Intelligence Service (SIS/MI6): responsible for obtaining secret information and conducting operations in support of the UK’s foreign policy objectives. It recruits graduates into areas such as intelligence, business support, science and technology and corporate services.

Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ): responsible for detecting and preventing serious crime, international terrorism and drug trafficking. It runs a fast stream programme for future leaders and also recruits technical graduates in areas such as cyber security.

Calling all specialists: niche graduate roles

The Defence Engineering and Science Group (DESG): part of the Ministry of Defence. It runs a graduate training scheme for engineering, science, IT and information specialist graduates who have the technical and creative skills to maximise the efficiency and performance of the technology used by the UK armed forces.

Government Actuary’s Department (GAD): an independent actuarial consultancy that works within government. It delivers actuarial advice to ministers, government departments and other public sector bodies across the country.

Government Legal Service (GLS): around 2,000 lawyers (including trainee solicitors and pupil barristers) provide advisory services to a range of government departments, including the Home Office, Ministry of Justice, HM Treasury and the Department for Education. GLS lawyers help to prepare proposals for new laws, advise the government on commercial matters such as contracts and provide the government's litigation and employment law services.

More ways into a graduate job in public administration and government

Some government departments and agencies run their own recruitment for graduate vacancies. These include HM Revenue & Customs and the Highways Agency. The main route for graduates joining the Ministry of Defence is through the Civil Service Fast Stream, but others join by applying for jobs on the Civil Service jobs website or through the MOD defence commercial programme. You can search for a range of vacancies in different departments on the Civil Service jobs website.