Whitehall recruits science high-flyers

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More fast-track civil service jobs are to be thrown open to scientists and engineers, to bolster Whitehall's shortage of expertise in technological areas, the Government announced yesterday.

The first White Paper devoted to the competitiveness and training of officials set out targets for civil service managers in the years to come. At present 20 per cent of the fast-stream graduates' entry are scientists and engineers. Ministers want that proportion to rise to 33 per cent by 1998.

The policy of going outside for recruits and holding competitions for posts will be widened across all senior grades and extended down to the middle ranks. An initiative to be launched in the autumn will see the recruitment of 50 middle managers from outside the service, initially, rising to 500 a year by the year 2,000.

The aim of the changes, said Roger Freeman, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and the Civil Service minister, was to improve the service's performance and make it more competitive, especially compared with its foreign rivals.

"The Civil Service, along with other sectors of the economy must face up to the challenges of the skills revolution and global competitiveness if the country as a whole is to succeed in the future. The message of the recent Competitiveness White Paper is one which must be made to work in the Civil Service," he said.