Government economists work in areas like macroeconomic modelling, competition policy, international financial issues, labour market trends, taxation, housing benefits, local government finance, public health and criminal justice, to name but a few.
Last updated - 8th September 2009
Assistant Economist, Department of Work and Pensions
BScEcon, London School of Economics
It's very satisfying to know that there's a direct link between what I do and what happens at the top levels of government.
After I graduated I wanted a career where I could use my expertise in economics but also get involved with politics. That's why I applied to the Fast Stream.
My first job in the Department for Work and Pensions involved providing forecasts on housing and council tax benefits to the Treasury. In my second role, at the National Employment Panel, one of my projects involved improving the performance of the London Jobcentre Plus region.
Now I work within the Child Poverty Strategy and Analysis Team where my current position provides a good mix of both policy and analysis. It has even taken me to Downing Street, which was definitely a highlight. Information supplied by my team led directly to the government’s target to halve child poverty by the year 2010, on the way to eradicating it by 2020. We are now helping to shape the strategy to meet this target. This involves working closely with other colleagues across Government, as our research has shown that increases in employment and levels of financial support have the biggest impact on reducing the amount of child poverty in Britain.
There are high expectations of the people who work in this department, but you are given the support you need in order to meet them, and over time you learn to demand more of yourself. I have also learnt a huge amount by being able to draw on the expertise of my colleagues. The quality of people here is excellent. My next challenge will be to complete my MSc in Economics — which is being funded by the department.
Assistant Statistician Economist, Department of Culture Media and Sports
BScA. MathsEconomics, Durham University
I was closely involved in the production of a study about the economic impact of the London 2012 Olympic Games.
When I first joined the Fast Stream I spent two years working in Customs and Excise on tax issues, but then I jumped at the chance to work in the Department of Culture, Media and Sport.
In my current position I perform economic analysis on a wide array of arts, heritage, creative industries and sports issues, and I have been involved in some really fascinating projects. For instance, I worked on London's Olympic bid, helping to assess the economic impact that the games would have on the whole country. It was behind the scenes work, sure, but I still had the satisfaction of knowing that I contributed to the overall success.
I'm based in London, but in this department you are out and about all the time. I never feel as though I am stuck behind a desk, as we have to liaise all the time with the various bodies that we work with. There is plenty of variety, which keeps me interested and stimulated.
I have also been fortunate to have had some overseas travel opportunities as part of my job, including one trip to a conference in Canada where I presented a paper about the methodology used in the Olympics economic research. Things like that highlight the international relevance of the issues I work on — and I know this also contributes to my own professional development.
Assistant Economist, Department for Communities and Local Government
BA Economics, MSc Development Economics and Policy, Manchester University
I was attracted to the Fast Stream by the chance to make a real difference to public policy — and I haven’t been disappointed.
This is my first post on the Fast Stream, working in the Department for Communities and Local Government (CLG), on regeneration and local economic development.
Starting in September 2008, at the same time the country fell into recession, means it has been a thought-provoking time to be working as an economist in government. Compared to friends on private sector graduate schemes, I feel the Fast Stream gives a high level of responsibility from the start. At the same time, there is a strong network of support from managers and fellow Fast Streamers who are more than willing to help, so the pressure never gets too much.
I work closely with policy teams on a wide variety of economic development issues and I've worked on some really exciting projects. For example, I wrote a paper on the impact of the recession on deprived neighbourhoods and cities and provided the analysis to evaluate bids from cities to gain City Region pilot status. The successful cities were announced in the 2009 Budget.
One of the reasons I chose the Fast Stream was the extent of formal training on offer and I've been impressed at the variety and amount of training for Fast Streamers. There are also lots of opportunities to attend conferences and seminars to keep your economics knowledge up to date.
The setup of the Fast Stream programme in CLG means I will be moving to a different policy area every 12 months, either within CLG or to Defra or DfT, so in my first few years I will gain a broad portfolio of experience in a variety of policy areas. This set-up aims to equip Fast Streamers with the skills they will need to achieve rapid promotion.