The Civil Service is to move screening for its graduate trainee scheme online in an £8m, five-year deal.
The move to online screening - to be provided by IT services firm Parity - is designed to improve the recruitment process for the service's Fast Stream scheme by speeding up the initial testing and improving communication with candidates.
John Barker, director of talent at the Cabinet Office, believes that changes to the service's graduate recruitment process will lead to fewer dropouts.
"The marketplace for the top 5 per cent of nation's graduates is fiercely competitive, and these improvements will reduce the risk of losing out to other high-level, usually city-based institutions," said Barker.
"My feeling is that graduates look unfavourably on any company that is not up-to-scratch with technology in the recruitment process."
Prospective applicants to the programme in October 2003 will be able to apply online and receive an immediate e-mail confirming the receipt of their application. They will then receive an e-mail providing a number of dates to attend tests at the 28 assessment centres around the country. Under the current system, candidates are given only four dates to take the tests at only a handful of assessment centres.
The change is part of the Government's commitment for all aspects of its work to be made available online by 2005.