As we set out in the declaration on Government reform last month, we are deeply committed to investing in training across the whole civil service, as we have to do better at providing public servants with the skills they need to serve others and tackle future challenges. Our new Government Skills and Curriculum Unit is in the process of establishing a campus for Government skills and will be focusing on creating a cross-civil service induction, a data masterclass for senior civil servants and transforming the fast stream so that it remains among the best graduate schemes in the world.
Clearly, there is a time and a place for employing contractors and other consultants, but does my hon. Friend agree that alongside that we have to provide better training for civil servants and better recruitment of individuals with the skills that are needed by the civil service so that they can be retained within the civil service as a preference to its spending considerable sums of money on outside consultants and communication firms?
I thank my hon. Friend for his important and incisive question. The civil service, as he acknowledges, has historically used contractors to provide specialist skills and to manage short-term requirements. We really want to drive that down by improving our own capability. We are developing a pipeline of secondments into major organisations through a new secondments unit. We are building an in-house consultancy, we are creating a civilian reserve, and we are working with the Civil Service Commission to review how we attract entrants with specific high-demand skills, particularly scientists and engineers.