Whether you join the Diplomatic Service or the Home Civil Service, training is a vital part of your development. Training continues throughout your career - even ambassadors need to acquire new skills or develop those they already have.
For policy and operational entrants to the Diplomatic Service, training in the first two years of your career is largely introductory and developmental.
All entrants take part in a three-week induction course, introducing them to the work of the Diplomatic Service and the FCO, their structure and aims, and including basic IT and drafting training.
After your induction, you will be assigned to a department in the FCO. For policy entrants, this will be for two years; operational entrants will spend 18 months in each of two different departments. While you will be making an important contribution to its effective running, this first period in London is also a time for learning about the Service, and building a platform of experience and skills for your subsequent career. On- the-job training is as important as attending courses.
We run a number of special courses for policy and operational entrants to the Diplomatic Service:
You will also be expected to acquire information technology skills soon after joining your department and learn (or improve) your keyboard skills.
These help you with your actual job or the background to the area you are working in.
Covers general subjects - anything from effective speaking to an introduction to economics.
Includes subjects like time management, motivation, leadership and staff appraisal.
We also run courses to develop your drafting skills. After all, much of the work of the Diplomatic Service depends on the clear communication of information to colleagues, ministers, other Whitehall departments and foreign governments.
Training for your first posting overseas covers two areas: specific skills and languages. Depending on what positions you are going to take up, specific skills training could involve a course in commercial work, an economic subject or computer skills for policy entrants or in consular or entry clearance work for operational entrants. Language training takes many forms. Some jobs have specific language requirement and training for these can take up to two years, in Japanese or Mandarin for examples.
For jobs where there is no language requirement, you and your spouse are entitled to 100 hours' tuition in the language of the country to which you are being posted. Wherever you serve overseas, you and your spouses are also entitled to 100 hours' tuition on French, German and Spanish, and while serving in London may apply to attend part-time courses in these languages at the Diplomatic Service Language Centre. You may also apply for assistance towards the cost of evening classes in any language.
For a few postings you will need to speak a hard language, such as Arabic, Chinese or Russian. It can take two years of intensive tuition to reach the required standard. This is usually split between London and the host country. Your teachers in London are almost always native speakers and this is often followed with a period of immersion training in the country of your posting.
When you join the FCO as an Executive Assistant you start off with three weeks of courses to introduce you to the Diplomatic Service and the work you'll be doing. This starts off with a description of the office and then goes on to cover your area - word-processing systems, for example. And people will be happy to help you find your way about in other ways - like the good sandwich bars for lunch and how to join the gym.
As you'll be spending most of your career overseas, we'll make sure you are fully trained before you go. You'll be trained in any specific skills attached to your job. There are also courses on living abroad, and our security course makes you aware of the possible dangers of terrorism and lawlessness, for example.
For some jobs you may have to learn a language. In that case you will be trained until you reach the required standard.
For jobs where there is no language requirement, you and your spouse are entitled to 100 hours' tuition in the language of the country to which you are being posted. Wherever you serve overseas, you and your spouse are also entitled to 100 hours' tuition in French, German and Spanish, and while serving in London may apply to attend part-time courses in these languages at the Diplomatic Service Language Centre. You may also apply for assistance towards the cost of evening classes in any language.
If there's anything you feel you'd like to be trained in, ask your line manager in your department. Your line manager oversees your performance as an EAB officer; you'll discuss your strengths and weaknesses together and then identify areas you need to be trained in.
If you join the FCO as an A1 or A2, during your first few weeks you will attend an introduction course. This will give you an introduction to the role and structure of the FCO, the scope of the FCO's work and where you fit in. During your time as an A1 or A2, you will have opportunities to do other training courses from basic drafting techniques to computer skills, or confidence building courses. You could also take advantage of the opportunity to learn a foreign language at our Language Centre.
Your salary and career progression at the FCO will depend on your performance. We monitor this through a continuous process of appraisal. Your line manager will discuss your performance with you regularly. He or she will also prepare formal, written appraisals - the first one six months after you join, the second after a year and annually after that. The purpose of the appraisal is to ensure you know how you are performing.
Your appraisal will be counter-signed by a more senior officer. He or she will write their comments before you see the report in full. You will then have a chance to discuss it with your line manager and add your comments. You will also agree objectives - performance targets for specific areas of your work - for the coming months.