K Hopkins

"I re-joined DWP 16 months ago as a SCS, HR leader in DWP and feel privileged to be part of a senior leadership (both in HR and generally across DWP) that’s passionate, motivated and skilled to support our people, deliver to our customers and make a positive difference.

 Anita Sharma, Deputy Director, (People, Capability and Place)

The Discover DWP Scheme

The Discover DWP Scheme is being established to support talented individuals from outside of the Civil Service who show potential and passion for a career in the SCS.

DWP operates on a scale that is almost unmatched anywhere in Europe and most people in Britain come into contact with us at some point in their lives.  This scheme provides a real insight in to what is like to work for the department. The scheme will run from June 2022 for 12 months and will consist of approximately 1-2 hour virtual sessions once a month. The scheme will cover a different module each month, focussing on leadership skills, application tips and interview techniques, talks from senior leaders within Government and bespoke learning sessions tailored to your needs.

The scheme will focus on two specific profession areas in two cohorts, People and Capability (HR) and Policy.


What is the Senior Civil Service (SCS)?

Senior Civil Service (Also known as SCS) is the most senior grade of the civil service, and colleagues who are at SCS grade will be in the senior management team for their relevant area of work. The Senior Civil Service is made up of 4 grades; SCS1 (Deputy Director), SCS2 (Director), SCS3 (Director General) and SCS4 (Permanent Secretary – most senior civil servant for the department).

What is the scheme? 

The scheme is for leaders outside of the Civil Service who are interested in making a move over to the department or the wider Civil Service.

For this scheme, we are looking for high potential individuals who are interested in a senior leadership career in Human Resources or Policy.

The programme will provide insight to DWP, Senior Leadership, Sponsorship and advice and support around selection, preparing candidates for future SCS competitions, particularly in HR and Policy.

You will receive:

  • Application tips – How to present a strong written application, insight into Civil Service Selection Methods and Process insight – e.g. Success Profiles, Assessments, Interviews
  • Learning on Governmental Priorities: DWP Story and Strategic Vision
  • Insight in to the Senior Civil Service
  • A Day in the life of….Activities, talks and events with senior leaders
  • Networking, opportunities to meet cross government, private sector and DWP colleagues in your profession area.
  • Sponsorship and mentoring opportunities with senior leaders within government

Is the scheme voluntary?

Yes, the scheme is a voluntary opportunity and does not guarantee a job offer in the Civil Service. 

Who are we looking for?

We are looking for senior leaders from outside of the Civil Service who have:

  • Experience or an interest in pursuing a future career in HR or Policy within Government. For the HR cohort, a CIPD membership is desired
  • Relationship building and stakeholder management skills at a strategic, senior level within their organisation
  • Leadership experience, and have embedded a culture of inclusivity and high performance in their teams in their current role
  • Demonstrated personal resilience, effectively leading teams under pressure
  • Used and analysed data effectively in their current role to make evidence-based decisions and influence up to a director level

… and who want to explore leadership roles within Government

Find out more about what a future career in the Senior Civil Service might look like and if the scheme is the right pathway for you.

Who is eligible for the scheme?

Candidates must be from one or more of the following backgrounds:

  • Ethnic minority
    • Asian/Asian British
    • Black/African/Caribbean/Black British
    • Mixed/Multiple ethnic groups
    • Other minority ethnic group
  • Consider yourself to be from a lower socio-economic background*
  • Consider yourself to have a disability


  • You are currently not a Civil Servant, and are interested in future senior roles outside of London, in support of the Government’s Places for Growth initiative

*At age 14, my highest earning parent or guardian was:

  • Not self-employed and not in senior management and employed in one of the following occupations:
    • Technical and craft occupations e.g. motor mechanic, fitter, inspector, plumber, printer, tool maker, electrician, gardener, train driver
    • Semi-routine manual and service occupations e.g. postal worker, machine operative, security guard, caretaker, farm worker, catering assistant, receptionist, sales assistant
    • Routine manual and service occupations e.g. HGV driver, van driver, cleaner, porter, packer, sewing machinist, messenger, labourer, waiter/waitress, bar staff
  • Or Unemployed, but seeking work

The programmes are open to UK nationals and Commonwealth and EEA citizens who have a right to work in the UK. Please see full nationality rules here; Civil Service recruitment: nationality rules - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) 

How long will the scheme take? Where will it take place?

The scheme will be over 12 months, with a monthly virtual event occurring for 1-2 hours. We understand that people will have their own work and life commitments outside of this scheme, so we will endeavour to make sure timings of the monthly events are suitable for most schedules. If you are selected to take part and have any concerns about the times of the sessions, our organisers will be happy to discuss with you.

How do people apply and get selected for the scheme?

Please see the “Register your Interest” page for more information on applying. You will need to answer two application questions and self-select that you meet the eligibility criteria.

When will it start?

Applications are open from Mid-March to Mid-May. The successful cohort will be informed in approximately early-mid June of their success with a view to begin the Programme of Work in mid-June/July.