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Civil Service

Fast Stream career opportunities for future leaders in the Civil Service

Sir Jeremy at the Civil Service Board meeting, January 2015
Sir Jeremy Heywood, Cabinet Secretary and Head of the Civil Service

I’m pleased to announce that applications have opened for the 2018 intake to the Civil Service Fast Stream.  

The Fast Stream has a long-standing reputation as one of the country’s leading graduate development programmes, providing an annual injection of new leadership talent into the Civil Service.

What is perhaps less well known is that the programme is not just open to graduates. Existing civil servants, including those without a degree, are able to advance their careers by applying as in-service applicants for a number of the available Fast Stream schemes.

Civil Service Fast Stream banner at exhibition
Fast Stream promotion at Civil Service Live 2017

Last year saw another wave of in-service candidates successfully apply to the programme. What made this wave different was that they were the first to come through the new purpose-built assessment centre in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. This was introduced in 2016 as part of our commitment to reduce the scheme’s geographical focus on London and make it more accessible to a wider demographic. As a result, this year saw 1,288 candidates pass through the centre’s doors, 32% of the total number assessed nationally.  

These further measures to attract and develop a more representative diversity of talent will take the Civil Service a step closer to our goal of being the most inclusive employer in the country and a true engine of social mobility.

The feedback from the Newcastle centre has already been most encouraging, with candidates sharing how the team’s professional and welcoming manner rapidly put them at ease, supporting them to give their best in the assessment. With this year's application window about to open we asked some of the in-service Fast Streamers who had visited the Newcastle Assessment Centre to share their experiences of the application process and why the Fast Stream appealed to them.

Read about the application experiences of four in-service Fast Streamers:

'Effective Leaders' logoThe Civil Service needs leaders at all levels and there are Fast Stream schemes to suit all talents. Whoever you are and whatever your background, the Fast Stream will help you develop the skills you need to become a senior leader, tackle the big issues facing our country, and make a positive difference to people’s lives.

If you think you have the ability and dedication to succeed, this is an unmissable opportunity and I’d encourage you to apply. For more information please visit

Follow Sir Jeremy on Twitter: @HeadUKCivServ

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  1. Comment by Abdullah Tariq posted on

    Hi, If someone is on HO or SO grade and want to apply for faststream programme, Do they stay in the same salary? or they have to take fast stream salary rate?

    • Replies to Abdullah Tariq>

      Comment by Gillian Bayfield posted on

      Hi Abdullah.

      Existing Civil Servants at HEO grade and below are eligible to apply for the Fast Stream via the in-service route. This includes HEOs on temporary promotion to SEO. Whilst substantive SEOs cannot apply to the Fast Stream via the in-service route, they could still apply to the programme as an external applicant, providing they meet the scheme qualifications eligibility criteria.

      As an in-service applicant, your existing salary and length of service will be taken into account; for example, for calculating annual leave entitlement; and, in line with any other internal move within the Civil Service, you would be placed at a point on the Fast Stream pay scale that would not reduce your pay.

      Of course the programme also offers numerous other benefits, including: a mid-scheme salary uplift, if performance is on trajectory; a structured learning and development programme; access to a mentor; and, in some schemes, additional qualifications, a career path to Grade 7 and, in the longer term, to the Senior Civil Service.

  2. Comment by Anthony posted on

    I've always wanted to work in the Diplomatic Service. I'm now in my 50's. Is this open to people of my age? All the pictures on the promotion are of people (I assume) in their 20's. I'm sure there might be more people in my age group who would be interested.

    • Replies to Anthony>

      Comment by Francesca Leyne posted on

      Hi Anthony, there isn't an age limit on the Fast Stream. We actively encourage applications from candidates of all ages and backgrounds.

      Good luck if you choose to apply.

  3. Comment by ian posted on

    I read with interest the above comments, as I also feel like I have the ability & dedication to join the scheme. I feel a little trapped in that I'm in a lower grade very busy role - contact centre, & so sometimes feel tired with my disabling condition - colitis & high susceptibility to colds etc. I feel tired from time to time in the job - my sons are in teens now & I am a tertiary carer to my mother - because of this I feel I don't get the backing /support to apply for other roles as I never have the best stats( I concentrate on quality of service not quantity)& so remain in the same role- 14 years - but did pass the old style revenue executive test 20 yrs ago- I am also - nearly qualified in acca & have an economics degree . if this scheme is open to all comers - I'll give it a go again - I have tried to get on fast stream - or talent programmes before & pass tests - but didn't quite make it through. I guess I should keep trying .regards .

  4. Comment by Hannah posted on

    I find this kind of scheme really hard to apply for because I have 2 young children. Whilst I think the scheme is good for some, I don't think enough support is available to help people with caring responsibilities to progress to higher levels. I don't have the option to work full time due to the cost of childcare. For that reason, I don't find these schemes 'inclusive' and open to people with a good 'range of circumstances'. There must be a huge proportion of the workforce who feel like this.

    • Replies to Hannah>

      Comment by Jacqueline posted on

      Hi Hannah,
      I agree!!
      I have caring responsibilities for two children and it is not ideal for me..

    • Replies to Hannah>

      Comment by Tracey Page posted on

      Hello Hannah. You may be surprised to hear that we have welcomed a number of working mums to the Fast Stream over the years. You can read some of their stories at: In the addition, for the first time this year we are actively promoting the programme on Mumsnet to highlight our commitment to drawing talent from the pool of graduates who are working mums and mums returning to work from career breaks and maternity leave. The Civil Service provides a wide range of benefits including flexible working, job shares and part time working in many roles to support Civil Servants to achieve work/life balance. There are 15 Fast Stream schemes to choose from and some government departments also offer childcare and on site holiday scheme provision to their employees as standard.

      Without understanding your circumstances in more detail, I appreciate we cannot fully understand the challenges you face, but as one working mum to another, I would urge you not to rule the Fast Stream out without fully investigating it to see if it could work for you. If you'd like to talk to someone in more detail about this please let us know. Our helpdesk is contactable at You may also wish to check whether you are missing out on any entitlement you may have for support with your childcare costs at GOV.UK ( Good luck, however you choose to proceed.

  5. Comment by Saida Mohammed posted on

    great service

  6. Comment by Terry posted on

    this is not an option for me due to my disability and lack of support or adherence to PSED

    • Replies to Terry>

      Comment by Tracey Page posted on

      Hello Terry. The Fast Stream welcomes talented graduates each year with a range of circumstances and from all backgrounds. We support candidates through the application and assessment processes, where needed, so that everyone can perform at their best. If you'd like to discuss your concern in confidence, please contact our helpdesk: You can also find out more about how to apply at: