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The top six graduate schemes in the public sector

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The UK Government is the nation's biggest employer and the public sector is constantly in need of top talent to keep the country functioning well. Here are some of the top graduate schemes in the public sector.

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Working hard for the top graduate schemes in the public sector

What do typical public sector graduate schemes look like?

A wide range of departments make up the public sector, including roles in education, energy, healthcare, emergency services, transit, social services, waste management, postal services, government and infrastructure.

As a result, a public sector graduate scheme can adopt various forms, but in the vast majority of cases you’ll be required to develop skills on the job, shadow more experienced public servants, and interact with members of the public.

Many public sector roles are geared towards strengthening society in some way, be it on a local, regional, or even national scale. Schemes require attentiveness, diligence and spirit, regardless of whether they are associated with Human Resources in the NHS or technology-based roles in the Secret Intelligence Service.

1. NHS Graduate Schemes

There are more than 1.7million people employed by the NHS in hundreds of clinics, surgeries and hospitals. These fantastic people provide care to the UK’s population of 63million. You can find a graduate scheme in HR, General Management, Finance or Health Informatics.

2. Civil Service Fast Stream

The Civil Service employs 42,000 employees and takes on 800 new employees each year – overall they were rated 11th. There are five fast stream programmes available with the Civil Service: the Graduate Fast Stream; the Analytical Fast Stream; the HR Fast Stream; the Technology in Business Fast Stream; and the European Fast Stream. Learn more about the Civil Service Fast Stream.

3. Secret Intelligence Service

The SIS (ranked 12th overall) maintains our UK National Security and our economic well-being. They collect and work with information to detect and prevent serious crimes as well as working on secret overseas operations. The SIS recruits graduates into language specialist and technology expert roles and is open to all students from degree disciplines.

4. Teach First 

Teach First places graduates in inner-city schools in areas of need. Their role is to raise education standards and train graduates in leadership and teaching.  Their scheme is unique in that they focus on attracting graduates who would not normally have considered teaching. The programme provides training in management as well as providing extensive links to businesses.

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5. Local government – National Graduate Development Programme

The NGDP work with councils to support, promote and improve local government. The NGDP run a two-year management development programme for graduates from any degree discipline. This programme includes a range of placements based within a corporate function, a customer-facing area and a support service such as HR, finance, IT and legal services.

Discover other leading graduate employers in the public sector and government

6. Police Now

Police Now place graduates in police forces across England and Wales. Their mission is to transform communities, reduce crime and anti-social behaviour and increase the public's confidence in the police service. Their scheme is unique as they focus on attracting graduates who may not have previously considered a career in policing. The programme provides training in leadership as well as support with onward progression and development. Browse available opportunities with Police Now.

What an ideal candidate looks like

The ideal candidate for a public sector role often depends on the particular area of the industry they wish to engage with. For example, embarking on a career in the SIS will require some tech talent, whilst chasing a role in administration will require strong organisational skills.

As there is no prototype for the “ideal” candidate in the public sector given the varied nature of roles available, it is true that any person applying for a position in a related industry must be determined, strong-willed, and most importantly of all, passionate about what they do.

The people who work in the public sector actively shape the world we live in. If you want to be a part of this industry, it’s crucial for you to really care about your career and acknowledge its significance in society. Learn more about the skills and qualities you need for the public sector.

Career progression

There are many different career paths you can take in the public sector and there is often an opportunity for immediate progression and advancement after completing a public sector graduate scheme. Many of these projects involve a lot of on-the-job training from the very beginning, with clear, unobstructed paths to permanent positions once the schemes have ended.

What you can expect to earn

The eclectic nature of the public sector inevitably means that there are inconsistencies across starting salaries, but the average wage for somebody with an established role in the public sector is currently around £37,000.

Looking to get into the public sector? 

Browse graduate jobs in Public Sector & Government.  Take the first step towards your career, apply today!