More than 500 candidates who applied for the 2010/11 Home Office graduate intern scheme have been told the programme has been cancelled.

Graduate Fog has learned that there were only 15 places available, which means that more than 33 graduates applied for every position.

And the bad news just kept on coming – as disappointed applicants saw their names and email addresses could be viewed by everyone else who had applied, thanks to what we assume was an administrative error.

To Graduate Fog, this blunder sums up the government’s slapdash attitude towards graduates. It also underlines the fact that while it expects private businesses to open their doors to university leavers seeking work, it knows the civil service cannot afford to do the same.

Effectively, they’re telling you to look elsewhere.

But where?

Although experts say there are signs that the private sector is recovering and a few more graduate jobs are coming through, my fear is that this is not going to be enough to make up for the loss of public sector graduate recruitment programmes that used to welcome so many of you after uni.

In closing its doors to graduates, the public sector is hoping you will move on to the private sector and seek work there instead. But what if there just aren’t enough jobs for all of you? What then?

The Home Office email was forwarded to me by one of Graduate Fog’s users, who was among the long list of applicants. It read:

Dear candidate

I am writing to let you know that unfortunately we have had to cancel the Home Office graduate intern programme this year and so won’t be going ahead with rest of the process.

This is a decision we have taken in response to the Government’s announcement of a Civil Service recruitment freeze. We have looked long and hard to see if there was any way to preserve what is undoubtedly a valuable programme. However, there are very limited exceptions to the freeze and the scheme does not qualify. Accordingly we cannot go ahead with the interviews as planned.

I know that you will be disappointed at this news. I’d like to thank you for the time and effort you put in to your application and for your interest in working for the Home Office.

Yours sincerely….

(I’ll spare the author’s blushes by keeping his/her name to myself, but the email was sent by a ‘Policy Analyst’ in the ‘Strategic Policy Team’, from the address ‘‘)

Graduate Fog is disappointed for the candidates who had taken the trouble to complete the 15-page application form necessary for them to get to this stage.

(Hilarously, one of the criteria for the job was ‘Strong numerical and IT capability’… Bcc button, anyone?).

But I am not surprised by the announcement of the programme’s cancellation.

(Last month the METRO warned that it looked likely graduates would be hardest-hit by the civil service’s planned recruitment freeze.)

I’m not even surprised by the huge number of candidates who applied for such a small number of roles – we all know the graduate job market is set to be extremely tough this summer.

But what I’m shocked by is the Home Office’s careless disregard for retaining the applicants’ privacy as they delivered the bad news.

They have:

exposed the identities of the candidates, when job applications are supposed to be confidential. This information could easily be passed on to countless others simply by forwarding the email. (“Ooh, look who also applied..”)

revealed the personal email addresses of the candidates. In doing this, has the Home Office violated Data Protection laws?

displayed a slapdash attitude towards young job-seekers. Would this sort of careless mistake have happened if the vacancies had been at a senior level within the civil service? Graduate Fog suspects not.

Yesterday, Graduate Fog asked the Home Office what went wrong – and a spokesperson has assured me that a statement is on its way. That was nearly 24 hours ago.

Everything about this story disappoints me – but my top two gripes are these:

The lack of care and respect shown towards graduate applicants


The cruel irony of the government failing to keep its side of the bargain in providing its share of graduate jobs, when it was the politicians (albeit a different party) that encouraged so many of you to go to university in the first place, because it was bound to pay off for you long-term. Or was it?

*Am I over-reacting to a simple admin boo-boo?
Or do you agree that this sends the message that politicians don’t give a stuff about graduates?

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