Today, our featured career is ‘Civil Servant’. The Civil Service is a large organisation which exists to assess policy options, advise government and help to delivery public services like education, healthcare, transport and justice. Importantly, civil servants are politically neutral, meaning that they take no stance on party political issues, and remain in their roles providing professional advice and assistance to whatever political party happens to be in power.
The Civil Service works to ensure public services in the UK run as efficiently as possible and helps the government to carry out its policies. For example, if Government ministers say that they want to invest more in education and offer more extracurricular provision in schools, the Civil Service would be tasked with overseeing how that funding is allocated and making the policy a reality, by hiring more teachers and ensuring schools have the right support in place.
Civil Servants also play a role in the UK’s relationships with other countries, forming trade deals and working together towards common priorities like standing up against human rights abuses. The fact that Civil Servants remain in office no matter what party is in power helps to ensure continuity in the UK’s relationships with other global powers, but they must take care to remain politically impartial and to carry out the wishes of ministers effectively.
Current Role: Director for UK Trade and Investment at the British Embassy in Paris
Undergraduate Degree: Modern Languages BA, St John’s College, Oxford, Masters in European Politics, University of Reading.
Brief Biography: After completing her Bachelor of Arts in Modern Languages at St John’s College, Oriel Petry completed a Masters in European Politics at the University of Reading. Applying this passion for culture and literature, Oriel Petry has acquired 20 years of experience as a Civil Servant. Here, Oriel Petry has held a variety of positions including European Policy Advisor to the UK House of Lords, and Deputy Trade Commissioner for the Foreign & Commonwealth Office. Oriel Petry is now the Director for Technology & Advanced Manufacturing at the Department of International Trade. As Part of this role, Oriel Petry is tasked with attracting investment into the UK, forming post-Brexit trade deals, and even establishing British companies as key players within the Space sector! Within this varied role, Oriel Petry praises her Modern Languages degree for giving her an analytical perspective, the capacity to assess evidence and to synthesise different perspectives
The Welfare State: Source Analysis
As a civil servant, you would be responsible for reading proposals, applications for funding and other documents in order to summarise the key points to ministers. As Oriel outlined, these are skills which you can develop through academic work with literature and source material, analysing it by considering who wrote it, what their motives might have been, and the extent to which it can be relied upon. Today we are going to look at some sources which tell us about the history of the Welfare State, the UK’s system of public healthcare and social security.
Want to know more?
To find out more about working in the Civil Service, in politics or local Government and other public services, take a look at the following explore-a-career pages:
- Civil Service Careers: Departments
- Oxford University Careers Service: Government and Public Services
- National Careers Service: Civil Service Executive Officer
- PROSPECTS: 7 skills for a successful career in public services
To explore other career options that might interest you, there are lots of tool available! We recommend starting by exploring job sectors and occupations on the following websites:
Talking to people who are currently doing a role you are interested in, organising some work experience where you can shadow someone doing this role, or reading first-hand accounts from people working in the area you are interested in can all help you find out more about a particular job!
To find out more about studying a subject at University, you can also talk to current St John’s students using Inspire Chat by clicking here!