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Civil Service Ethnic Minority Recruitment Statistics Disappointing

Recruitment statistics for the Civil Service were recently released by the government. Equality campaigners were especially interested in the figures as they made for interesting viewing.

With lots of competition for spaces, the average white graduate came out with a one in 30 chance of getting a “fast stream job”, which is one that will allow you to eventually progress through the Civil Service to one of the highest positions. An Asian graduate would see their odds reduced to only one in 50. And if you are black? Your odds are a shocking one in 134.

Looking at the figures from last year indicates  that more than 750 black students applied for places, but only 6 were actually taken on.  Simply being white rather than being part of an ethnic minority increased your odds by a third.

So how has recruitment faired in general over the last few years? Rather than the slow but steady improvement that might be hoped for, history shows that progress is a bit hit and miss.

Back in 2006 a white graduate had a 1 in 29 chance of getting into the civil service, compared to a 1 in 31 chance now. For ethnic minorities, the odds were 1 in 36 but are now 1 in 43. Looking deeper, it’s worrying that almost all black and Asian candidates that were rejected in 2011 were not even interviewed. This was due to failing an online test. Some argue that this is due to underperformance from black and Asian students, but the test of course takes no account of potential.

While some white schoolchildren may benefit from the best education money can buy, a bright young student from Bangladesh may have a background of poverty and non English speaking parents, putting them at an unfair disadvantage. Potentially they might be a better fit for the civil service position but will not get the opportunity to try. The Civil Service has a duty to understand and represent the whole of our society and if it is not made up of appropriate representatives, it is not doing its job very well.  

The Institute for Government is going to release further figures soon, showing that in the senior civil service there are only 5 per cent of minorities in this field of employment compared with 14 per cent in the population.

The good news is that the Civil Service are running a new internship programme for students from disadvantaged backgrounds to get some experience, and some civil servants are beginning their careers as apprentices, with the first hundred starting their placements in the autumn. 


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