Meet the mentors from the ministry

Civil Service union learning reps are improving their own skills by helping students through the Public Sector Mentoring Scheme (PSMS).

The First Division Association (FDA) and Civil Service Fast Stream development programme have joined together to develop union learning reps (ULRs) as mentors for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

Middlesex University, which has a socio-economically diverse student base, designed the training programme and recruited the initial mentees, 80% of them from black and minority ethnic and 70% women.

The FDA arranged training for the ULR mentors, who are given release time to support the students for a minimum of 10 hours over nine months.

“We have now engaged well over 200 ULRs in this work and supported a greater number of young people, with a number of them gaining public sector employment,” explains Neil Rider, FDA Project Manager for the “Professional Skills for Government” Union Learning Fund project.

“As a result, we are now extending our work with ULRs supporting young people not in education, employment or training (NEETS) into employment as part of a scheme with one of our partner universities and a local council.”

Mentors have praised the scheme for helping their own career development.

“The best thing I did was joining the FDA, as I’m now exposed to a wealth of opportunities that other staff are not necessarily exposed to,” commented one Home Office ULR and mentor.

Feedback has also been positive from participants:

  • 70 per cent felt that the experience had made them more employable
  • 88 per cent felt that since joining the scheme they more about graduate recruitment processes
  • 88 felt more confident about their career prospects
  • 96 per cent would now consider employment in the public sector (only 50 per cent would have before joining the scheme)