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Applying for an apprenticeship

Here, you’ll find the advice you need to make the most of your application. Discover what we look for and what you can expect. Find how to prepare and how our application process might be different to other employers. We’ll take an in-depth look at the vetting process and what this means for you. And for more great tips, why not check out our wider section on how to apply? This will give you the insight you need to understand what it takes to join us in any role.

What do I need to apply?

Due to the sensitive nature of our work, these are ‘reserved posts’ under the Civil Service nationality rules. That means applicants must hold UK national status or UK citizenship through naturalisation. It’s also essential that you’re free to remain and work in the UK. You can find out more on gov.uk here

 

To satisfy government scheme access rules, you must have been resident in the UK for the last three years before the first day of the apprenticeship (aiming to start September 2022).

You must also meet the security vetting requirements. Depending on the role, this is either Security Check (SC) or Developed Vetting (DV), requiring that you’ve lived in the UK for at least five of the last 10 years respectively.

Check the programme you’re applying to for the qualifications needed and make sure you satisfy the minimum criteria.

We can’t accept your application if you already hold a qualification in the same subject, at the same level as (or higher than) the one you’d study on our programme. If your qualification is in a different subject or field then you can apply.

You don’t usually need to bring relevant previous work experience, but we would like to see your interest in the business area you’re applying for.

Can we support you with any adjustments?

We want to make sure everyone can shine in their application and on our programmes. If you have a disability or a long-term physical or mental health condition – or any other reason why you might need an adjustment – all you need to do is let us know.

It’s worth noting that some of our apprenticeships have specific physical requirements – for instance, we have to test for colour blindness if you’ll be dealing with electrical wiring as a core part of your programme. But we support everyone as much we can.

We’re Disability Confident committed, so we actively encourage applicants with disabilities to apply and progress here. If you disclose what you need, we’ll do all we can to help and it won’t affect your application.

If you have any questions, feedback on our website, or you’d like to ask us about your application, please email us at fcdoservices.recruitment@fcdo.gov.uk and we’ll be in touch as soon as we can. Please also get in touch with us if you need any information or documents in an alternative format and we’ll be happy to help.

 

 

Vetting advice for apprentices

If your application is successful, you’ll need to be vetted due to the secure nature of our work. This means you’ll be background checked for national security purposes. You can find out more on the Gov.uk site  but let’s see if we can tackle some of the questions you might have here.

No, you can make your application without vetting. You’ll only need to be vetted if we make you a conditional offer of employment.

We work to protect government buildings, people and data. We’re a secure organisation and all our employees hold security clearance. Security clearance enables us to give assurances to ourselves and our customers. Our value of being trusted is integral to everything we do.

Some of the questions will be intrusive but are asked because we are trying to find out if you are vulnerable to pressure. UKSV will look at both your character and your circumstances, to assess whether you’re right for this level of responsibility. They’ll examine any causes for concern or things that could make you vulnerable. The interview will be very searching, but it is not an interrogation and should not feel like one.

We don’t handle the vetting itself – this is operated centrally by UK Security Vetting (UKSV), which is part of the Cabinet Office.

It depends on the programme you’re applying for and the level of vetting you need. So, let’s talk about that first.

 

These roles require Security Check (or SC) vetting:

 

  • Apprentice in Business Administration
  • Apprentice in Finance (Transactional)
  • Apprentice in Marketing – specialising in Customer Experience

 

These roles require Security Check (or SC) vetting before joining, then Developed Vetting (DV) after joining:

 

  • Apprentice Engineering Technician
  • Apprentice in IT
  • Apprentice in Logistics
  • Apprentice in Quantity Surveying
  • Apprentice in Broadcast and Communications Engineering
  • Apprentice Associate Project Manager (IT)
  • Apprentice Data Scientist

 

These roles require Developed Vetting (DV):

 

  • Apprentice in Building Services Design
  • Apprentice Data Analyst

 

As part of SC vetting, UKSV will look at your character and personal circumstances, starting with a security questionnaire. You’ll also be asked to provide identity documents and references. You’ll also be checked against UK criminal and security records and undergo a credit reference check.

 

For DV clearance, the process is more thorough. You’ll go through the same checks as the SC process but you’ll also be required to take part in a Vetting interview with a dedicated Vetting officer. This interview will be in-depth and probing, but it’s not designed to judge you, just to make sure that you can cope with access to sensitive information. For more information about what the interview involves, visit the gov.uk site here.

It starts with making sure you’ve got all the right personal details ready to enter into the initial online questionnaire. You’ll be provided with the documents to help you do that nearer the time but you can also find out more here.

If you need to go through DV vetting, A vetting interview will look in real detail at all aspects of your life: your family background, your relationships, habits, financial affairs, hobbies, travel, interests, etc. Some of the questions will feel very personal and intrusive, but it isn’t an interrogation and you haven’t done anything wrong: your interviewer will be checking whether you’re vulnerable to pressure.

UKSV are also looking for complete honesty. Your Vetting Officer will be highly experienced, and there’s nothing you could say that would shock or surprise them.

To find out more about vetting interviews, see the Gov.uk page here.

Vetting has to be thorough, so it can take time. We’ll keep in touch with you throughout the process, but it can take up to an average of six-eight weeks for SC clearance, and an average of six months for DV clearance.

Hopefully that won’t happen, but if you do need to make a complaint about any part of the vetting process, you can do so here.

Our application process

Click through each step by selecting the icons below. Remember, If you need us to make any adjustments at any stage, you can find out more about that here.

Check your eligibility

Before you start your application, make sure to check that you meet the requirements for the programme you’re interested in, as you’ll need to demonstrate this in your application. You can find details on the requirements for each programme in the Job listing on our application page or on our main apprenticeships page here.

 

Online application

Once you’ve chosen the programme you want to apply for and are happy you meet the requirements, you’re ready to start your online application form. All applications will be considered solely based on the information you provide in this form. so make sure you take the time to complete it thoroughly and follow all the instructions carefully.

 

In the form, we’ll ask you to provide some personal details like your name, contact details and details of your citizenship. We’ll then ask you to confirm your current qualifications or predicted grades  so we can check they match the minimum entry requirements for your programme.

 

You’ll then be asked to complete a Letter of application; this is your chance to tell us about yourself and why you’re interested in this apprenticeship. Finally, you’ll have a chance to demonstrate how you meet the essential criteria for the role. Please don’t repeat your formal/academic qualifications here. This is your chance to demonstrate how you meet the essential criteria for the programme so make sure you’ve downloaded the role profile and are ready to explain how you match the ‘essential’ and, if applicable, ‘desirable’ criteria.

 

Application sift

At this point, you don’t need to do anything, but our team will be conducting a sift behind the scenes. That means we’ll assess all our applications against the essential criteria for the programme, progressing applications based on merit and who best fits the criteria. It’s important to note that our sifting process anonymises the personal data in the application form.

Complete our Assessments

Please note, any Engineering candidates will also need to undertake a colour-blindness test, since part of your role will rely on distinguishing colours in wires and cables. You will be asked to complete this before the assessment stage to make sure you’re OK to continue.

 

If you’re shortlisted, we’ll invite you to take part in our assessments:

 

  • The online Civil Service verbal and numerical reasoning test are designed to test your ability to draw information from written information and to perform calculations or interpret numerical data. Depending on the programme, you may be asked to complete one of or both.

 

  • Civil Service online judgement test that’s designed to measure your ability to demonstrate sensible judgement and decision-making based on the behaviours needed for your programme. You can find these behaviours listed in the role profile for the programme you’re applying to.

 

  • A face-to-face group exercise where you can show us your interpersonal, team building and problem-solving skills. These will take place at either our Hanslope Park site (near Milton Keynes) or our London offices at King Charles Street.
Strength based Interview

If you’re successful in the online assessments, we’ll invite you to attend a ‘strengths-based interview’, which is designed to give you an opportunity to talk about your natural strengths and the situations that help you shine. For us, it’s about finding out what you love to do, rather than what you can do. We’ll also ask some specific questions to understand your basic knowledge of the subject area for the programme you’ve chosen, as well as your passion for this. As an example, you’re interview might involve questions like:

What do you like to do in your spare time?

What motivates you?

How would your close friends describe you?

Do you most like starting tasks or finishing them?

Do you prefer the big picture or the small details?

Can you describe a successful day?

What are you good at?

Conditional offer and vetting

If you’re successful at interview and we offer you a place, you’ll go through our pre-employment enquiries, including referencing and medical assessment. This assessment helps establish any reasonable adjustments we can make for you. You’ll also begin the relevant vetting process to make sure you’re suitable for the position. You can find out about that in more detail – what’s involved and why it’s necessary – here.

Our Embassy is a great way to get to know us

One of the key tips for your application is to do your research on us. Especially if you’re invited to assessment or interview. So, why not take a look around our Embassy – it’s a great way to explore more about the work we do – and what you could be doing if you join us.

Tips from the recruitment team

Want to know how to excel in your written application? How to ace your interview? Here are the tips from some of our team:

Your application is your chance to prove that you meet the minimum requirements but it’s also an opportunity to demonstrate why you want to be an apprentice with us. So, take your time to complete it and be as detailed and accurate as you can be to give you the best chance.

In your application form make sure you spell out your existing qualifications or any predicted grades in the correct section and provide as much detail as you can. For example, don’t just tell us you have two GCSEs: tell us you have a 6/B in GCSE English and a 4/C in GCSE Maths. If your grades are predicted, please add that either before or after your grade e.g. ‘Predicted Grade 5 at GCSE English’ or ‘Grade B in A level in Maths Predicted’.

We don’t expect people to have previous experience to join our programmes, but the Application form is your chance to highlight the skills you already have that could be transferrable to your apprenticeship. But don’t just tell us ‘you’re a good communicator’ or ‘I’m good at wiring plugs’, give us examples of how you’ve learnt those skills, like a school project you were involved with, or previous work experience where you’ve demonstrated the behaviours we’re looking for in action.

We love seeing what makes you passionate. Why are you interested in this subject area? What intrigues you about FCDO Services’ work? Demonstrating real enthusiasm for your future career and future team goes a long way.

Try not to be completely silent in any group assessment, as it’s hard for assessors to mark you if you don’t participate. You don’t have to be an extravert, a leader or talk constantly – we just want to hear your voice and get to know your style.

You don’t have to know everything right now. In fact, we expect you’ll get some things wrong. But if you don’t know something, it’s great to see evidence that you’re trying to learn and understand.

The most common mistake among applicants is confusing FCDO Services with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office. So, make sure you take time to understand who we are and our work before and during your application. There’s plenty of information on this site you can explore or why not head over to our corporate site to learn the latest news about us.

Tips from our apprentices

“Whatever you’re applying for, really research the role in detail. You’ll be asked job-specific questions around your basic knowledge and your interest in the subject.”

Former apprentice

“You’ll get the chance to meet current apprentices or team members if you take part in the face-to-face group exercise assessment. They’re there to tell you the truth about the job and give you genuine insight into the scheme.”

Former apprentice

“In group scenarios, it’s often not about finding the right answer. It’s about how you arrive at an answer together as a group, and how you interact with everyone else.”

 

Building Services Engineering apprentice

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Choose your programme

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