Civil Service to develop senior leaders with disabilities

A new scheme, called the Catalyst Programme, will bring senior leaders with a disability together from across the public sector, with the aim of developing them to CEO-level in their respective fields.

Over 12 months, it will provide delegates with intensive residential courses, coaching, a diverse range of speakers from different backgrounds, and a network of peers to learn from and grow with.

The programme will be run by the National Leadership Centre (NLC), which was launched by the government in 2019 to support public sector leadership. This will be the third such programme to support leaders with a disability or long-term health condition.

The National Leadership Centre is a team within the Government Skills and Curriculum Unit in the Cabinet Office. It supports the most senior leaders of the public sector to develop the skills, knowledge and networks required to address society’s most complex strategic challenges.

Pamela Dow Executive Director of the Government Skills and Curriculum Unit Cabinet Office"The National Leadership Centre helps the country’s most senior public service leaders develop the skills, knowledge and networks required to address society’s most complex strategic challenges," said Pamela Dow, Executive Director of the Government Skills and Curriculum Unit. "We are proud to be expanding our programmes to further support leaders with broad and varied experience to continue rising through the ranks."

13.6% of civil servants have a disability, which reflects the distribution of disability and long-term health conditions among the economically active working age population of UK adults.

The Catalyst Programme will bring together 20 public service leaders from across the country.

Steve McGuirk CBE National Leadership Centre"The diversity challenge is complex and, in many respects, the work to understand and support the problems facing disabled leaders is much more limited and even less well understood," said Steve McGuirk, Advisory Board member for the NLC. "The Catalyst programme seeks to help those leaders with a bespoke programme designed to empower disabled people to push for - and break through - the highest levels of public leadership in the same ways as non-disabled leaders."

Catalyst will create a network of people to sustain peer support and peer mentoring and create the opportunity for people to share their experiences about what works and what doesn’t. It will encompass similar content to the other NLC programmes, as well as exposing delegates to inspiring case studies and inspiring people. Most of all, it will be a catalyst for liberating a pool of enormously talented leaders who will make a huge difference to the way public services are delivered in the next few years.

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Recruitment for both the Accelerate and Catalyst Programmes is now open and will close on 24th September. To find out more and to apply, head to the NLC’s website:

Both the Catalyst and Accelerate Programmes deliver on the Declaration on Government Reform commitment to make sure ethnic minority and disabled citizens “flourish in public service”, and were trailed by the Parliamentary Secretary at the Cabinet Office, Julia Lopez MP, in the Public Leaders Report 2021:

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