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Finance Apprentice

Job Description

We are seeking candidates with excellent literacy, numeracy and IT skills, who are highly motivated to provide high quality and accurate financial information while gaining the skills and experience to become a finance professional.  Successful candidates will work in various finance roles and teams based in London. FCO departments will configure the roles to meet specific business needs, which might typically include:

  • Effective customer engagement and clear communications with key stakeholders, departments and posts.
  • Provide support, advice, financial expertise and management of resources to help deliver key objectives and meet the FCO’s strategic priorities.
  • Gather key financial data, produce reports, analysis and forecasts as well as preparing proposals for Management or Programme Boards to help deliver value for money.
  • Check, validate and aggregate financial plans, analysing issues, risks, troubleshooting problems and answering queries as they arise.
  • Deliver financial excellence to help the FCO improve and standardise processes.

Things you need to know

  • The typical duration for this Level 4 finance apprenticeship is 18 months and it will include training for a professional qualification (AAT / CIMA).
  • We will place you into your first role based on your skills, experience, interview and our business needs. The positions are in London but you may occasionally have to visit our offices in Milton Keynes.
  • On successfully passing the 18 months’ apprenticeship, we will offer you an FCO finance specialist contract and you will remain in your role for a further 18 months.  Thereafter you will be a permanent member of the Finance specialist cadre.

Apprenticeship and Training

We will enrol you onto a Level 4 Professional Accounting / Taxation Technician Apprenticeship with Arch Apprentices.  The qualification should take approximately 18 months to complete and will be made up of on the job learning at the FCO and apprenticeship training. You will spend a minimum of 20% of your paid hours on off-the-job apprenticeship related training and assignments over the planned duration of the training period (the practical period).  The practical period is due to end at the gateway point before the end-point assessment. Further details about this apprenticeship standard are available here.

Further Personal and Professional Development

The FCO reward offer includes a variety of learning and development opportunities, flexible working wherever possible and a range of employee benefits which can be seen in the benefits section below.

Successful applicants will become part of a friendly and supportive team, where everyone is committed to diversity and encouraged to seek out development opportunities.  These roles will provide access to a wide range of Learning and Development (L & D) opportunities to enhance and/or develop existing skills.

About you

Person Specification

To apply for this apprenticeship you must be a British Citizen.  These appointments are conditional on Security Check security clearance.  For more information about this process, click here.  Due to security and apprenticeship eligibility criteria, you must have been resident in the UK for the last three years immediately prior to your application.  (Please tell us if you were overseas during that period because you were serving overseas with HM Forces or in some other official capacity as a representative of Her Majesty’s Government, or were living overseas as a result of your parents’ or partner’s Government employment.)

It is essential in your application that you provide evidence and proven examples in each of the following minimum criteria as far as you are able to do so.  These responses will be further developed and discussed with those candidates invited for interview.

Minimum Criteria

  • 5 GCSEs (including English and Maths) at Grade C/4 or above (or equivalent).
  • 2 A-levels at Grades A-C.
  • Excellent literacy, numeracy and IT skills.
  • Competent using IT packages including Microsoft Office, Outlook, Excel and, ideally, knowledge of Microsoft Windows 10.
  • Good interpersonal, team-working and communication skills.
  • Good organisational, analytical and planning skills with the ability to work to tight deadlines.
  • Meet the minimum standard of the competences listed below.


The competencies you will be assessed on at the application stage and during the interview are as follows:

  • Making Effective Decisions
  • Leading and Communicating
  • Delivering at Pace
  • Managing a Quality Service
  • Collaborating and Partnering

Please see the Civil Service Competency Framework for more information about these.

It is imperative that your application form provides evidence of the competencies contained in the Person Specification.  You will be tested on two of the five competencies for this role on the application form.  These are Making Effective Decisions and Collaborating & Partnering.  The other three competences will be tested at the interview stage, together with motivational and specialist questions.  The specialist question will be awarded extra credit as part of the initial assessment of your application.

Please note that the FCO carries out name-blind (anonymised) recruitment to help build a more diverse and inclusive workforce.  The personal information on your Application form and/or CV will be concealed during the sifting phase and only the names of those who are being invited for interviews will be made known to the Panel.

Recruitment Process

The FCO has appointed Arch to manage the process.

If you are successful at the application stage, you will be invited to attend a panel interview (in person) at the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London.  There may be the option to conduct the interview via Skype for candidates who are temporarily overseas.  If this is preferred, you must make this clear at the application stage.  If you are invited to interview and require any adjustments to allow you to participate fully, please contact in advance to discuss your needs.

There may be other opportunities in the future. Candidates who meet the required level at interview, will be kept on a reserve list for 12 months. Should this, or another substantially similar role arise within this period, we may fill it with a reserve candidate from this campaign.

Please note that the FCO will not reimburse any travel costs or expenses incurred as part of the selection process.

Current FCO staff members are advised that this is an external campaign and, as such, you will be required to go through the same process as all other candidates.

If you have any questions or wish to discuss the role or the process further please call Arch Recruitment team on 020 3906 7166.


The salary for these roles at B3 is £22,402 per annum plus a non-pensionable, non-consolidated London Location Allowance of £5,000 per annum which is payable when working in London.

Future pay awards will be performance related, linked to the annual appraisal process and may also include a non-consolidated Performance Related Payment (PRP) dependant on the level of performance.  All future awards are subject to guidance issued annually by HM Treasury and the Cabinet Office.

Existing Civil Servants

For existing Civil Servants, the usual FCO rules on starting pay on level transfer or progression/promotion will apply. On level transfer, your current salary, excluding any allowances, will be transferred to FCO payroll, subject to the FCO grade maximum.  Progression applies if you are being promoted from AA to AO, HEO to SEO or Grade 7 to Grade 6.  This attracts a 7.5% increase in current salary or the higher grade minimum, whichever is the greater.  Promotion applies if you are being promoted from AA/AO to EO, from EO to HEO/SEO or from HEO/SEO to Grade7/6.  This attracts a 10% increase in current salary or the higher grade minimum, whichever is the greater.

Terms of Appointment

This is a temporary to a permanent appointment. It is graded at FCO pay band B3. On successful completion of the Apprenticeship, the Apprentice will be offered a permanent specialist contract.  This role is in the Home Service of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) and the successful candidates will be eligible to work in finance roles in the UK.

The probation period for this role will be 6 months. Provided the period of probation is completed successfully and the Apprenticeship is passed, the appointment will be confirmed. However, if the standard required for confirmation of appointment is not met, the appointment may be terminated.

Former members of the Home Service/Diplomatic Service who are reinstated or re-employed as substantive civil servants after a period of five years or more will be required to serve another period of probation.   You will also be required to serve a period of probation if you are re-employed at a band higher than that at which you left the FCO.


You will normally work a 5-day week of 42 hours including a daily lunch break of one hour.


The paid leave allowance for this post will be pro-rated against an annual allowance of 25 days (5 weeks) rising to a maximum of 30 days leave after 5 years of service.  You will also receive 9 days public and privilege holidays per year (pro-rated).  The leave year runs from 1 January to 31 December.

Nationality and Residency

You will be eligible for appointment only if:

  1. You are a British citizen; and

You have been resident in the UK for the last three consecutive years.  (Please tell us if you were overseas during that period because you were serving overseas with HM Forces or in some other official capacity as a representative of Her Majesty’s Government, or were living overseas as a result of your parents’ or partner’s Government employment.)

You should be aware that a lack of sufficient background information may preclude you from being granted security clearance.

Security Clearance and Other Checks

This job requires a minimum of Security Check security clearance as a condition of employment. If you are successful at interview, you will be asked to complete a number of security questionnaires. Employment references will also be obtained.  There will be checks on your nationality and other matters, before a formal offer of appointment can be made, including checking applicant details against the Cabinet Office Internal Fraud Database (IFD) – see section below.

Cabinet Office Internal Fraud Database (IFD) Check

From 29th January 2018, the FCO started providing the Cabinet Office with information about employees who have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty offences.  This information is the individual’s name, date of birth, national insurance number and a general description of the relevant misconduct.  This also applies to employees who resign or otherwise leave but who, because of an adverse decision by the investigation panel, or decision maker, would have been dismissed for fraud or dishonesty had they continued in employment.

The Cabinet Office input this information onto a database – the Internal Fraud Database (IFD) – and retain it for a period of five years from the date of dismissal (or the date employment ended).  It shares with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office the name, date of birth and national insurance numbers of the staff included on the IFD.  Where an applicant to a department is successful in interview, the FCO will, as part of its pre-employment screening, check applicant details against the information received from the Cabinet Office.  Any applicant who is included in the IFD will be refused employment.

Conflict of Interest

If you or your spouse/partner has any business interest or conflict of interest with the activities of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, you will be expected to declare this at a later stage.  You will also be asked to inform us of any indirect conflict in interest you may have through any other family member or partnerships.


You will be subject to the provisions of the Official Secrets Act.

Equal Opportunity

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) is committed to equal opportunities.  Our officers are recruited on merit through fair and open competition.  We seek our strength through diversity and appoint suitably qualified individuals regardless of ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender, social backgrounds, age or disability.

To help us ensure that our recruitment activity reflects the diversity of British society, we should be grateful if you could complete the equal opportunities section of the application form.  However, you are under no obligation to provide these details.

The Recruitment Section of the FCO, those administering testing processes and the interview panel will not have access to the information you provide at any point during the recruitment process, nor will it be used as a selection tool.

Disability Confident Scheme for Disabled Persons

The FCO is an accredited ‘Disability Confident Employer’ under the government’s Disability Confident Scheme, which denotes organisations that have a positive commitment towards disabled people.  We guarantee to interview anyone with a disability whose application meets the minimum criteria for the role as outlined in the Person Specification in this pack.  By ‘minimum criteria’ we mean you must provide us with evidence in your application form which demonstrates that you generally meet the level of competency required for each competency, as well as meeting any of the qualifications, skills, or experience defined as essential.

If you wish to claim a guaranteed interview under the Disability Confident commitment, you should attach a statement to this effect to your application. It is not necessary to state the nature of your disability.

FCO and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Personal data collected as part of this job application will be processed in accordance with the FCO’s Data Protection Policy and Privacy Notice.  You can read this here. The Privacy Notice explains what personal data the FCO holds about you, how we collect it, and how we will use and may share information about you.

Civil Service Commission Recruitment Principles

The FCO’s recruitment processes are underpinned by the principle of selection for appointment on merit on the basis of fair and open competition as outlined in the Civil Service Commission Recruitment Principles.

If you feel your application has not been treated in accordance with the Recruitment Principles and you wish to make a complaint, you should, in the first instance, contact HR Recruitment, Corporate Services Centre, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, PO Box 6108, Milton Keynes, MK10 1PX.  If you are not satisfied with the response you receive from the FCO you can contact the Office of the Civil Service Commissioners.

The Civil Service Code

Information about Civil Service values can be found in the Civil Service Code.

Benefits for Staff

General Benefits for all staff

Pay in the Delegated Grades (staff below the SCS)

Unlike many Whitehall Departments, the FCO has one unified pay scale for its entire staff, whether you work in London, Hanslope Park or overseas.

In-Year Performance Awards Scheme

Staff in the Delegated Grades are eligible to receive a bonus and/or non cash award as an individual or as a member of a team. Awards under the scheme vary from £10-£2,000.

Special Paid Leave

This may be granted when getting married, for paternity, or for compassionate reasons and in some circumstances, for study and exams.

Career Breaks and Special Unpaid Leave

Subject to operational requirements, these may be granted for a variety of circumstances such as voluntary work, study, nursing a relative etc.

Time off in Lieu (TOIL) and Official Travel Time

These can be taken if you work in excess of your conditioned hours, with prior agreement of your line manager.

Learning and Development

The FCO is an organisation that recognises that workplace learning is vital to success and needs to be accessible to all.   We strive to create the right environment to empower staff to take responsibility for their own learning and developing both personally and professionally.   You will have access to formal and informal learning opportunities to help you develop the right skills, competencies and knowledge at the right time.

The Diplomatic Academy provides a first-class learning facility, ensuring that all staff have the knowledge and expertise needed to represent the UK and pursue the national interest.

Free Annual Eye Test

These are available up to £25. There may also be a contribution of up to £100 for frames/prescriptions.

Flexible Benefits

Staff discounts and savings (including cash back options) are available at retailers such as Sainsbury’s, Marks & Spencer etc via the Xtra staff retail discount scheme.

Give as You Earn

You can make a donation to charities that are tax/NI free through Payroll. This is particularly attractive to higher tax earners as this cannot be done through direct donations.

Employee Assistance Programme

This provides a 24/7 confidential counselling service on such matters as financial problems, childcare, social security benefits, elder residential care etc.

Pre-Retirement Help

Officers considering retirement have access to a one-day workshop and online support offered through Civil Service Learning (CSL) to help consider the financial and life changing aspects of this important event.  If pre-retirement is connected with an early exit scheme, access is also given to commercially provided outplacement support.

Benefits for Staff in the UK

Interest-Free Loans

These can be for a season travel ticket, station car parking or bicycle purchase to travel to work.

Childcare Support

This is through onsite nurseries in London and Hanslope Park.  On 4 October 2018, Tax-Free Childcare replaced the childcare voucher scheme.  Under the new scheme, the Government will pay £2 for every £8 parents pay their childcare provider.  Existing Civil Servants should note that any moves across the Civil Service may have implications on an employee’s ability to carry on claiming childcare vouchers.

Cycle to Work

A salary sacrifice scheme whereby employers provide cycles and safety equipment to employees as a tax and National Insurance free benefit.  The maximum value is £1,000.


Gym facilities are available in London and Hanslope Park with a monthly subscription.


There are staff restaurants in London and Hanslope Park.

Role location:

FCO, King Charles Street, London, SW1H 2AH

Deadline for application is 17th December 2018

Job Categories: London. Job Types: Accounting Technician. Salaries: £27402. PA

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