What is the Civil Service Fast Stream?

Written by Calvin Bowers

The Civil Service Fast Stream is one of the most competitive and rewarding opportunities for graduates in the UK.

The Civil Service delivers public services for the government and implements policies. It provides an impartial contribution to the public sector. The civil service is not associated with the particular government in power. Instead, it is a team of professionals who specialise in administration and strategy. Civil servants work across the UK, in a whole range of departments to ensure the needs of the public are met, and to protect the interests of the nation.

The Civil service promotes the core values of integrity, honesty, objectivity and impartiality. All civil servants must display these qualities and share the common goal of giving back to society and the community.

The Civil Service Fast Stream is a graduate programme offered by the Civil Service, which aims to find the very best talent from across the UK to become part of this essential service. They are not looking for a particular type of person but are searching for hardworking individuals who can problem solve, be collaborative, and really embrace the role’s responsibilities. For most of the subsections of the Fast Stream, you don’t need a specific degree, meaning they are open to all graduates. However, some more specialised areas require a certain undergraduate degree. The Fast Stream is a proud Disability Confident and Stone Wall Diversity Champion Employer.

Fast streamers will work across government departments throughout the programme, to develop into future leaders. There are 15 different ‘schemes’ with the Fast Stream, each representing an area of government that you will work in. Candidates can select a preference of four of these in their application. The fifteen schemes are:

  • Commercial

  • Digital, Data and Technology

  • Diplomatic Service

  • Diplomatic Service Economics

  • Finance

  • Generalist

  • Economics Service

  • Operational Research

  • Social Research

  • Statistical Service

  • Houses of Parliament

  • Human Resources

  • Project Delivery

  • Property

  • Science and Engineering

Each scheme has its parameters and requirements, so be sure to research each one before applying.

Five things you need to know before applying to the Fast Stream 

  • The Civil Service guaranteed employment with the Civil Service after the programme ends. This is very rare for a graduate scheme and part of the reason that the Fast Stream is so competitive. Employment after the programme is subject to satisfactory pre-employment checks.


  • The scheme will ask you relocate at least once during your time on the programme. While the majority of civil servants currently work in London, there are many roles across the UK, which means you could potentially be asked to move anywhere in the UK.


  • It is not unusual to succeed after two or three attempts at applying. So, if you have previously been rejected, there is no shame in trying again.


  • The application process has six stages, consisting of online testswork-based scenarios, a video interviewadditional information, the Fast Stream assessment centre, and the final selection board.


  • There are six key behaviours that the Fast Stream are looking for during the application and assessment process. These are: seeing the bigger picturechanging and improvingmaking effective decisionscommunicating and influencingworking togetherdeveloping self and others.


To find more graduate opportunities, visit Developing a Student’s Opportunities board.

Last Updated: Wednesday December 9 2020
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