THE NATION'S MANAGERS
By George Vickery
THE British Civil THE British Civil Service, which under the direction of Parliament is responsible for the management of the nation's affairs, has a world-wide reputation for efficiency and integrity. Over the years, in fact, it has come to represent the standard by which the public services of other countries are judged.
In order to maintain its tradition of service to the nation, the Civil Service must recruit to its ranks each year many thousands of people—ranging from 15-year-old school-leavers to honours graduates, from junior clerks to administrators, from laboratory assistants to professional engineers. The names of some of the better known Government Departments, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Power, and Ministry of Transport, give some idea of the range of the responsibilities of the Civil Service.
BUT there are in addition many other Departments whose work is Concerned with the economy, welfare or defence of the United Kingdom as a whole, and which therefore have offices, laboratories, factories
or workshops in all parts of the country.
Abroad, the Foreign Service represents Her Majesty's Government in foreign countries. Its function is to promote good relations with those countries, to protect British interests, and to foster British trade. The work of the Commonwealth Relations Office is similar to that of the Foreign Office both at home and in the capitals of the selfgoverning countries of the Commonwealth, though the staff is regarded as part of the Home Civil Service. Conditions of employment throughout the Civil Service are good and include a five-day week generally, generous holidays and sick-leave arrangements, and noncontributory pensions. Women who resign their posts on marriage after a minimum of six years' service receive a substantial gratuity. Promotion is on merit and there are ladders of advancement from the most junior to the most senior posts.
APART from those on specialist duties, the staff of most departments falls into the following main groups: the Administrative Class, responsible for advising Ministers on policy and for high-level organisation and control; the Executive Class, which has managerial duties, as well as undertaking specialist work such as auditing and accounting; the Clerical Class, whose duties include compiling statistics, checking claims, or dealing with enquiries from the public by letter, telephone or interview; Clerical Assistants, who do similar work to junior clerks in large business firms; and Typing staff. In addition to these general classes, there are certain grades which are found in one Department only. For example, for girls and boys who like contact with the public there are opportunities in the Post Office as Postal and Telegraph Officers. For young men who want active and responsible work there are posts as Officers of Customs and Excise 'or Assistant Preventive Officers in the Customs and Excise Department.
MANY Government Departments are nowadays called upon to make a substantial contribution to the nation's programme of scientific research, and the Civil Service is in fact the largest employer of scientists in the country. Within its ranks there are openings for school-leavers with G.C.E. (or equivalent) qualifications as well as for graduate scientists and engineers. For school-leavers, who want a career in engineering, the Admiralty, the War Office, and the Ministry of Aviation provide Student Apprenticeships which give a five year course of general and specialised training with pay —and for those who live away from home — lodging allowances. The Post Office has vacancies as Assistant Engineers for boys who are good at science and mathematics, and there are opportunities for boys and girls with similar qualifications as Telecommunications Traffic Superintendents. For university graduates there is a wide range of careers in the Administrative Class of the Home Civil Service, the Senior Branch of the Foreign Service, and in the many specialist and professional posts.
ENTRY to all classes is through open competitions conducted by the Civil Service Commission. Competitions for school-leavers usually consist either of an interview for those with certain G.C.E. (or equivalent) qualifications or of a written examination (sometimes combined with an interview). Where a written examination has to be taken, the syllabus is designed to fit in with courses normally followed at school. Methods of entry to the Foreign Service are similar to those of the Home Civil Service. Further information about the posts described above—and others —giving details of salaries and methods of entry into the Civil Service, may be obtained from the Secretary. Civil Service Commission, 6, Burlington Gardens, London, W.I.