Civil Service administrative assistants and officers carry out clerical and administrative work in central government offices and agencies. They help to make sure that government policies are developed and put into effect.
You could be:
- opening and replying to mail and emails
- inputting information on databases and using the information to create reports on the computer
- ordering office supplies and arranging maintenance of office equipment
- keeping accounts up to date
- answering questions from members of the public, face to face or by telephone or email
- dealing with claim forms and applications for benefits
- managing the diaries of senior members of staff and organising meetings, catering and travel
- taking minutes at meetings.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates may vary, depending on:
- where you work
- the government department in which you work.
Salaries vary depending on which department you are working for. Administrative assistant pay scales can be in the region of around £15,000 to £20,000 a year. Administrative officer pay scales can fall between £18,000 and £21,000 a year. There is a wide range of benefits including a good pension scheme.
- You would be based in an office, probably sitting at a computer most of the day.
- In some cases, you may have to visit other organisations or people's homes.
- You would normally work standard office hours, 9.00am-5.00pm Monday to Friday, but might occasionally have to work overtime.
- Flexitime is usual.
- You might work part time or job share.
Workforce Employment Status
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- You can apply for any job in the Civil Service if you are a UK national or have dual nationality with one part being British.
- If you are a Commonwealth citizen or a national of the European Economic Area (EEA), some jobs are open to you.
- Each department has its own entry requirements and advertises its own vacancies, usually on its own website, on the Civil Service Recruitment website, GOV.UK and Universal Jobmatch websites and in local newspapers and Jobcentre Plus offices.
- Administrative assistants normally need at least 2 subjects at National 5 including English and often Maths. Many applicants have more.
- Administrative officers normally need at least 5 subjects at National 5 including English and preferably Maths, or a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) in Business and Administration at SCQF Level 5. Many applicants have some Highers or a degree.
- You would normally complete an application form for a particular vacancy and then attend for an interview.
- You may also have to sit an entrance test. This may cover teamwork and communication abilities and number skills.
- The Scottish Government requires security checks for all successful candidates. You will require a satisfactory criminal record check from Disclosure Scotland to show that you are suitable for this type of work. Contact Disclosure Scotland for details on the type you would need. The certificate must be less than 12 months old.
- You might be able to get in through the Civil Service Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme. There are five different schemes available: Business, Commercial, Finance, Digital and Technology, and Project Delivery. The website has full details of application dates, entry requirements, pay levels and qualifications achieved on the scheme.
Workforce Education Levels (UK)
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Job Outlook Scotland
Percentage of workforce registered as unemployed (Scotland)
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Job Outlook Scotland and UK
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What Does it Take?
You should be:
- willing and able to follow instructions
- well organised
- able to use your initiative
- able to respect confidential information.
You should have:
- good written and spoken English
- strong interpersonal skills
- teamwork skills
- good IT skills.
- You would usually be trained on the job by experienced members of staff.
- You would also attend short courses relevant to your work.
- You may be funded to study for a National Certificate (NC), National Qualification (NQ), a Higher National Certificate (HNC) or a Scottish Vocational Qualification (SVQ) by distance learning.
- Civil Service Learning also run a wide range of relevant courses for staff that are mainly work based or online.
- On completion of the Fast Track Apprenticeship programme, you are eligible to apply for the Fast Stream. This is the Civil Service graduate scheme.
- In the Civil Service there is a structured promotion system.
- With experience, you could move from administrative assistant to administrative officer.
- You could develop your career further by applying for management positions, by moving into a specialist area such as finance or information technology or by transferring to a different government department.
- Studying for relevant qualifications will improve your chances of promotion.
Civil Service jobs are in a range of government agencies and departments such as tourism, child protection, statistics or sea fisheries within the Scottish Government. Most are in Edinburgh but some are in Glasgow or elsewhere.
With the exception of Fast Stream graduate entry (see the job profile for Civil Service Administrator - Fast Stream) and Fast Track Apprenticeship Scheme, there is no central recruitment to the Civil Service. Each Government department and agency manages its own recruitment.
The Civil Service Recruitment website noted below provides general information on careers in the Civil Service. You can get information on the wide range of government departments and agencies from that website and from the GOV.UK website, also noted below.
The following organisations may be able to provide further information.
This website gives information about all government services and departments.
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