Sunday 20 June 2021 / 6:13 PM Angela Rayner

Labour demands end to qualification “snobbery” in government jobs

Labour has today called for action to end “snobbery” over qualifications and establish genuine parity of esteem between academic and non-academic qualifications when recruiting for jobs in the civil service.

Following a speech by Michael Gove which he promised to open up the civil service to more talent and the publication of a ‘Declaration on Government Reform’, which promised to improve recruitment practices and “bring in new skills”, Labour’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Angela Rayner called on the government to end the requirement for academic qualifications such as degrees or A-Levels for jobs in the civil service, unless they are genuinely relevant to the role.

This change would ensure that the Government’s public job adverts, short listing requirements and interview processes will only consider academic qualifications where having an academic qualification is a genuine occupational requirement for the job being recruited for.

Rayner, who herself studied at a further education college rather than at university, argues that removing these “outdated” restrictions will allow the civil service to choose from a much wider pool of candidates with broader life experience, skills and talents in order to find the best person for the job.

The move will allow for a wider range of talented and experienced applicants for government jobs, and help to drive a culture change across our society and set an example by showing that it is “skills, experience and hard work that matter, not a particular type of education or where somebody went to school or university”.

Labour’s Deputy Leader and Shadow Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Angela Rayner said:

“If Michael Gove really wants to attract the most talented people to work in our civil service, then he should end the ingrained snobbery that underpins attitudes towards different types of qualifications and the outdated assumption that academic qualifications should be a basic entry requirement for government jobs.

“Academic qualifications like degrees or A-Levels should only be a requirement when they are actually necessary to do the job. This will ensure that the government is more representative of the country it serves and that a greater range of talented candidates are not put off by snobbish and patronising attitudes about qualifications.

“This government has long talked a good game on parity of esteem but that rhetoric has not been matched by action. The Tories have cut billions from further education and while achieving this parity of esteem will need more resources, it will also need deep-seated culture change too. That culture change requires leadership from government, setting an example to other employers and showing that it is skills, experience and hard work that matter, not a particular type of education or where somebody went to school or university.