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Civil Service

Investing in skills – awards and rewards

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Civil Service Leaders, More skilled
Stephen Lovegrove , Permanent Secretary, MoD
Stephen Lovegrove, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence

I joined the Civil Service just over 12 years ago, partly to exploit, in a richer, more complex environment, the skills I had developed over the previous 13 years in the private sector.

I was lucky in my timing; the appreciation of the specific skills I brought from a commercial, corporate finance background was rising up the agenda, and my aspirations for my new career have been hugely outstripped.

One aspect of that has been the astonishing range of skills that the Civil Service could already boast. Our colleagues display a range and breadth of skills far beyond that of any other organisation, no matter how big. And I very much include policy development in that, not just the skills that have analogues in the private sector. When they work in harmony, as they did, for example, in our response to the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, the results are astonishing.

But there is plenty more to do. The Civil Service is investing heavily in skills development as well as moving towards a career model that is focused as much on functional specialisms as on career generalists. The Civil Service is also contributing significantly to the Government’s target to create 3 million apprenticeships by 2020. In Defence, we will account for 50,000 of those, offering key skills development for young people through either military or civilian work.

We’ve introduced ‘STEM futures’ (in science, technology, engineering or mathematics) for science graduates, offering development opportunities through work experience in the public and private sectors and academia. The Civil Service is also investing in the development of the digital profession and the dedicated Government Digital Service, so that we are better at using emerging technology to raise the quality of our services.

Civil Service Awards – Skills Award

Civil Service Awards 2016 logoIt’s important that we take pride in the skills we have and that’s why I’m delighted to be acting as champion for the Skills Award at this year's Civil Service Awards. This will recognise and celebrate the very best initiatives that strengthen skills, and I encourage you all to think about nominating a person or a team you’ve worked with who has made a difference in this area at any level.

Group shot with award
DWP's Digital Academy - winners of the 2015 Civil Service Award for Building Capability & Skills

We want to hear about examples of best practice you’ve seen for learning and development or championing innovative ways to develop skills, either in the Civil Service or the wider UK economy. Or about teams that are investing in their people to get the right balance of capability, talent and experience.

The Civil Service has a massively positive story to tell on skills and I’m keen that we use these awards to showcase outstanding practice. Not only will this support our people to develop even further, but it will help attract the next generations of civil servants. I look forward to seeing plenty of nominations.

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  1. Comment by William MoD posted on

    Mr Lovegood,
    You are recorded as saying at the Defence Board meets DE&S that “pay restraint is here for the foreseeable future and must be dealt with as a reality”.
    Can I ask how that matches the very laudable aims you discussed of rewarding and awarding skilled people?

  2. Comment by Anthony posted on

    i can only echo what already has been said in other comments, Mr Lovegrove you claims to be investing in skills and giving rewards have a very hollow ring to them.

  3. Comment by George O posted on

    I can only endorse the comments made by William above. I joined the MOD in 1979 as a scientist. I was supported to gain further qualifications and become what we now call a SQEP. I then watched as the requirement for specialists was gradually removed and my role diminished to the point where I am regarded (like other specialists) as somewhat of an oddity - useful to have but not part of the core (generalist) team. I would suggest that you look at the retention rate of things like the Graduate Engineer scheme because I get the impression that many of those graduates leave as soon as they can earn more outside. As a computer scientist I note that we have no real "intelligent customer" within MOD for software use and development. My take home pay is currently £60 per month less than it was in 2011. Do I feel valued as a specialist and chartered engineer. Well perhaps if my pay reflected my qualifications and experience (and scarcity?) I might. But I would also would like to see is my techncial ability form part of my competencies.

    • Replies to George O>

      Comment by William MoD posted on

      Thanks George O, we seem to be in a similar position and age.
      But to depress you further, if you add in the loss of increments to the increases in pensions and the Government's figure of average inflation that actual figure is more like £570 a month worse off than what was in my contract of employment.
      That is in the order of £6470 a year.

      But, hey, I have good training opportunities.....

      Therefore - I ask again Mr Lovegrove (apologies for getting your name wrong last time) to explain why a young engineer, or other specialist, would want to stay in the MoD?

      PS - I do not know how to ensure that Mr Lovegrove actually sees this question and the other comments - can anyone advise?

  4. Comment by Matilda - MOD posted on

    This sounds like is a nice initiative, but feels pretty hollow when viewed against the lack of investment that MOD has made in training its people over the past decade. Our training budget is now being further slashed and, even where there are training opportunities, those of us outside London/Bristol have no access to T&S to attend courses. I remember a time when newly promoted B2s were put on an Ashridge course to ensure that they had the necessary leadersip skills for the new challenges - not anymore. Almost all classroom training has been replaced by e-learning, a very poor substitute.

    MOD needs to realise that its people are its most valuable resource and not just an overhead.

  5. Comment by dave posted on

    Hi Stephen

    many thanks for the many good words on the existing skill sets and proposed methods for encouraging investment in required skill sets in the STEM areas......

    Why then is my department ISS cutting the core training budget by 50%?

    of course I may have got this wrong....... currently we employ 53% contractors perhaps some of these could be given up to allow a bit more in the training pot?

  6. Comment by Pete posted on

    As an IT Professional in the MoD, I am unable to access any kind of professional training because of the "lack of funds". If I want to do any training in the field I work in, I have to look at external companies because its just not covered within the MoD Training Environment. At which point I have to apply for it, which goes along the lines of:

    1) I fill in the form
    2) Line Manager agrees that I need it
    3) My DACOS agrees that I need it
    4) Command Sec will agree that the training is needed as part of my core job function
    5) Finance tell me I can't do it because there is no money

    This is just another example of money and time wasting red tape.

    In addition to that, with the pay freezes, 1% pay "rise", stoppage of spine point progression, increase NI payments and pension payment. I've had to endure something in the region of 25% - 30% relative pay cut thats had the outcome of being able to afford to pay the bills and keep a roof over my head a stressful situation.

    As a comparison, looking at jobs in industry for someone with similiar experience and knowledge, those types of jobs offer a minimum of an additional 50%.

  7. Comment by William MOD posted on

    Mr Lovegrove,
    Firstly, it's good to see that this is being considered and I fully agree with re-establishing the different disciplines used in the Civil Service and that the training opportunities in the MoD are second to none.

    Unfortunately, I have been in long enough to remember when we used to have these different grades – PTO, P&GS and EO etc.
    PTOs were engineering / technical and, due to the qualifications and experience required, were on a pay spine higher than the generalists (EOs). This was developed over a number of years and worked, but was broken in the drive to make us all Broader Band grades – a fundamentally flawed logic that any C1 can do any C1 job.
    As an engineer – do you really want me to manage the HR section?

    However, investing in skills and bringing in lots of apprentices will not solve the fundamental problems in the MoD.
    You have a workforce with a large percentage over 50 (my section has 53% over 50, me included), who will all be retiring or leaving on VERS as soon as we can, mainly because we feel poorly treated and morale is at rock bottom.
    Then you have very few experienced people in their 30s to 40s – why?
    Because they have left the MoD because of the 10 year pay freeze, 4 fold increase in pension contributions, decline in Ts&Cs and increasing work load.
    Next - bring in loads of bright young things on apprenticeship schemes – they pass, they get put on the minimum of the Band D scale and told there will be no pay rise for 5 years; they get offered £10K a year more than their current salary by private industry – they leave.
    The “brightest young things” will leave, because they won‘t feel rewarded.
    For those that don’t leave – you have created the same perfect storm over the next 30 years. They will become disillusioned, with lots of qualified people in the same age group going for a limited number of promotions.
    Or they will be promoted too soon because of the huge gap left by the old grumpies (like me) leaving.
    Not a good way to run a business, is it?

    A way of retaining the STEM skilled people and a return to the old grading system is what is needed. To do this, I suggest that STEM qualified people will need to be appropriately rewarded, in actual salary – not training opportunities.
    Note – current estimates are that a CEng in the MoD earns 20% less than the equivalent in industry and training opportunities do not pay mortgages.