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Civil Service

Changing horizons, raising aspiration

Sir Jeremy at the Civil Service Board meeting, January 2015
Sir Jeremy Heywood

Collaboration – between departments and with our wider partners – is essential for ‘A Brilliant Civil Service' and helping us deliver high-quality public services. Joining up with local communities and working with them on the issues that affect them is an important part of this and of developing services that meet their needs.

Earlier this week, our Civil Service Local team, led by Leo Castledine, hosted a groundbreaking event in Blackpool called Changing Horizons. Aimed at raising the career aspirations of young people and their families, it was an outstanding example of collaboration in action, involving government departments in the region, local authorities and the wider public sector, employers, further education and vocational training establishments.

The event was led by Kathie Bates, Civil Service Local’s North West Regional Co-ordinator. Around 700 young people from over 50 local schools took part, supported by over 230 Civil Service volunteers.

Large dance hall with band on stage and audience at tables
The Changing Horizons event at Blackpool Winter Gardens in full swing.

The event’s detailed aims were to:

  • inspire young people about what they can achieve with the right approach and support, no matter where they start in life
  • show them career opportunities in the Civil Service and other major employers in the locality
  • identify the skills of young people and demonstrate how they link to employability
  • provide opportunities for attaining skills in the world of work and the voluntary sector

By all accounts the enthusiasm on display was infectious. I hear that one student joined a live band on stage and played guitar in front of the thousand-strong audience; while another turned up in full protective veterinary gear and announced to senior officials his intention to be a vet.

One student said the event had given him belief in his ability to achieve after his father had told him he wasn’t good enough to do anything. I am passionately committed to improving access to the Civil Service – and the wider employment market – particularly for people from underrepresented groups, ethnic minorities, those with disabilities and people from lower socio-economic backgrounds. And this story movingly illustrates the importance of addressing negative attitudes to employment prospects in parts of our society and tackling the lack of opportunity and inclusion that informs them.

Initial reaction to the event has been hugely encouraging. One exhibitor running an activity said:

It was my privilege to be involved. It was a super day and one the Civil Service can be proud of. Blackpool the town will be very grateful now and for the years to come with what you have done today.

A civil servant volunteer added:

The day was truly inspirational... I would be happy to volunteer if there is another event.

But perhaps the best indication of the impact the day had were the hundreds of cards from students posted on the ‘inspiration wall’ at the event.

Handwritten comment on paper
One student's reaction to Changing Horizons on the 'inspiration' wall at the event in Blackpool

The Blackpool event followed the announcement in October 2016 by Justine Greening, Secretary of State at the Department for Education, of investment in Opportunity Areas, with Blackpool identified as one of the most challenging when it comes to . A key aim of investing in these areas is to build young people’s knowledge and skills and provide them with the best advice and opportunities. Evidence shows that increasing the interactions young people have with the world of work increases earning capacity and significantly improves their confidence to achieve career aspirations.

'A great place to work' logoI am delighted that this event showcased the Civil Service at its best, and demonstrated our commitment to engaging with local communities. Events like this can only help us achieve our ambition of becoming the UK’s most inclusive employer. I look forward to seeing some of those bright students as civil servants in the future.

Follow Sir Jeremy on Twitter: @HeadUKCivServ

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  1. Comment by Gavin Thomas posted on

    What a fantasic initiative and its encouraging to know that you were able to make such an impact.

    Whilst I support the aims of University Roadshows, I really feel that if the Organisation wants to make an impact, then you need to seek their interest at a much younger age. It will be interesting to see how many of the children who participated in this event go on to apply to join the Civil Service?

  2. Comment by Kelly Crompton-Roberts posted on

    I ran an activity table on behalf of the National Clearance Hub (HMRC) with my colleague Lauren. All the pupils who visited our table were engaged and fully participated. We also got told "this is the best day ever". It was a pleasure to be involved and we look forward to helping at future events. Well done to all involved. It felt like we were making a real difference to everyone who attended - showcasing what is available and providing belief in what they can achieve in the future.

  3. Comment by Dean posted on

    This sounds like an amazing event. As part of DWP digital we're looking for opportunities to engage with young people to ask whether they've ever considered careers in our digital group and would be really interested in getting in touch with the organisers.

    • Replies to Dean>

      Comment by The Blog Team posted on

      Hi Dean,

      Thanks for your comment.

      We will pass your contact details on to our Civil Service Local colleagues.

  4. Comment by Dawn posted on

    My daughter is the young lady who got up and played guitar with the band. As parents we are so proud and want to thank Hodgson Academy for giving her this opportunity. She met some of the organisers in the evening and they told her that she had been an inspiration to the younger students who are playing guitar now and what they can achieve.

  5. Comment by Rachel Davies posted on

    I was one of the volunteers at this event and one of the children commented to say "it was the best day ever!" They loved it, they really got engaged with all the activities. The event was huge there were so many employers there and I think we made a difference to children's lives as well and made them aspire to go out in the world and achieve what they want out of life! So nice to see so many civil service departments getting together!

  6. Comment by Lisa Boaler posted on

    I was one of the very lucky volunteers at this event. My group of lads went from disinterested to fully engaged by the end of the day. It was a fantastic inspirational day. Thank you for letting me be a part of it 🙂