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FCDO Services are dedicated to reaching out to and supporting people of all backgrounds. The last year has made in-person events a challenge – but we’re proud of the way we’ve adapted, to continue providing much-needed opportunities. And of course, we’re incredibly excited about what’s coming up in 2021.

From our perspective, it’s vital that every student has the chance to find their ideal career and is inspired by the possibilities for their future, so we’re committed to connecting with students from all backgrounds. In reality though, the opportunity to learn about different career paths varies widely, depending on where you are and what your influencers know. It means that students might well miss out on the perfect path for their skills,  because they didn’t know about the opportunity. And we want to help change that.

“We’re building the skillsets of the future, building our future workforce, and helping bridge a gap through our knowledge as an employer.”

After all, this kind of education is a critical part of finding and training our future team. Because the fact is, our work has a huge impact – but many of the specialisms we look for aren’t widely known as skills needed within the Civil Service. As an example, career advisors might not know about the kind of work we do. They won’t be able to tell pupils that they could have a future in, say, protecting overseas embassies from earthquakes, or designing the CCTV networks for a secure government site. By reaching out into the community, we can make careers advisors and students aware of what they could do. As our Talent Outreach Lead says, “We’re building the skillsets of the future, building our future workforce, and helping bridge a gap through our knowledge as an employer.”

So, with all that in mind, what are we doing to reach out right now, and in the future? Well, it started with a series of virtual careers workshops organised by Worktree; a local charity in Milton Keynes. Worktree exists to help reduce under-employment, develop employability, and ultimately help students of all backgrounds to understand what the world of work is really like, and what kind of roles they could have.

That’s where we came in, with colleagues taking part in a series of virtual ‘Career WorkOut’ sessions with local students and answering their questions about jobs, careers and the world of work. This was a great opportunity to speak directly to students and to give them some of the tools they need to help plan their future.

We’ve also been working with MK College’s Level 3 IT students and students at the Institute of Technology, running virtual CV workshops. Ultimately, these sessions were all about helping the students involved to not only understand the work we do, but to better prepare them for making applications. From tips on how to talk about your work experience, through to one-to-one advice on preparing a CV, it’s fair to say the sessions were an invaluable experience for everyone involved. For a full rundown of the session and what our participants got from it, you can read more here.

There’s still also plenty more to look forward to this year – including our Pathways to Engineering networking session with the Sutton Trust – a charity who drive for social mobility. We’re incredibly excited to be part of this pilot project for the field of Engineering, where our degree apprentices will speed network with a group of A-Level students from state-funded, non-fee paying schools; all interested in a career in Engineering. This virtual event means we have the chance to reach out and provide a new perspective on what these students could do and the impact they could have, so we’re excited to report back later in the year on how that went.

Next, we’re thrilled to say we’ll be part of a day of interactive sessions, panels and Q&As run by the National Museum of Computing, with the goal to help more women into STEM roles. Some of our female tech leaders, as well as female colleagues in STEM roles, will be there to talk about their experiences and to answer questions for the audience – again, helping to promote our opportunities amongst students who might never have considered a career with us before.

If all that wasn’t enough, we’re also getting ready to kick off a brand-new long-running education project this year. Our colleagues will be working with a group of IT students across a full school term, taking them through the ins and outs of a practical coding project, from initial brief right through to final production. It’s a chance for the students to get to know how we work to meet the needs of our customers, and see how we plan projects from start to finish. At the same time though, it’s also a vital opportunity for the students to gain practical coding experience, meaning an incredible boost for their CV and a true insight on what this career path is really like. Again, we’ll be reporting back on how it all goes later in the year, so check back to find out all about this exciting project.

It’s a busy year ahead, and we can’t wait to tell you more about our work and the brilliant students we’re supporting. If you want to know more now though, why not find out about some of the great outreach work we did in 2020? There’s our event with the NAZ Legacy Foundation, for instance, or our virtual work shadowing with the Women’s Engineering Society.