The UK Office of Government Commerce (OGC) has launched a recruitment scheme aimed at developing more public sector procurement specialists.

The government has been under pressure to improve the quality of procurement by its central departments, with costly major IT schemes highlighting weaknesses on the buying side.

Earlier this year, the Treasury outlined a strategy to boost procurement, with the role of the OGC refocused to become a "smaller, higher calibre" body, with "powers to set out the procurement standards departments need to meet".

The Government Procurement Graduate Scheme – an initiative arising from the Transforming Government Procurement plan – will recruit up to 13 high-calibre business graduates into government procurement roles by the autumn, in a pilot programme.

The scheme is aimed at increasing procurement skills and capacity across government – a key target of the strategy document.

The successful candidates will go through an accelerated two-year development programme, including procurement placements in a range of government departments.

OGC's acting chief executive Peter Fanning said: "This new scheme will have a significant impact on raising the skill base across public sector procurement. In the future, we anticipate some of our trainees will be controlling the procurement efforts of major government departments, making sure we get the best possible value for taxpayers' money in delivering excellent public services."

The recruits will receive both formal and on-the-job training, leading to full membership of the Chartered Institute of Purchasing and Supply.

Following the initial pilot, OGC aims to deliver about 20 graduate procurement specialists a year to central government departments. Seven departments are supporting the scheme including HM Revenue and Customs and the National Health Service’s Purchasing and Supply Agency.