From Apprentice To Expert: Success Strategies For New Government Economists
1 month ago

I have recently moved into another Apprentice Economist role within my organisation.

As part of my third posting, I now work in Consumer Prices Inflation Production at the Office for National Statistics. This transitional period has allowed me to reflect on strategies for new starters in the Civil Service and government economics, helping my colleagues to make a meaningful career start.

As Civil Servants, we must emphasise continuous self-improvement and knowledge sharing, especially with our junior colleagues. Hence, these are my top tips for those just entering public service:

  • Firstly, demonstrating a strong work ethic sets the foundation for success. Being punctual and taking accountability for the outcomes of your tasks shows dedication and earns you respect from your colleagues. Equally important is accepting that there's still much to learn as a new starter. Taking notes on processes and practices as you navigate your new environment respects your colleagues' time and provides valuable references for the future.


  •  Networking plays a vital role in both personal and professional growth. Joining a network, such as a new starter network, allows you to meet new people and Engage in discussions that are relevant to your interests and goals.


  • Additionally, familiarising yourself with your department's local intranet is essential. It often includes valid documents, access to employee platforms, local departmental events and services, flash news, and in-depth announcements.

To put your best foot forward as a Government Economist, I would suggest that you consider the following:

  • Membership in the GES (Government Economic Service) offers invaluable opportunities to connect with fellow economists across the government, attend events, and ensure your voice is heard within your profession.


  • Investing in both face-to-face and e-learning opportunities, crucially honing your data skills, particularly in Excel, and enhancing your presentation capabilities.


  • Public speaking is an essential skill for economists. By putting yourself forward to speak about your work with colleagues, you can gradually improve your confidence and effectiveness in conveying complex ideas.


  • Seeking mentorship from experienced economists can provide invaluable guidance and perspective. Moreover, once you've gained confidence, consider paying it forward by becoming a mentor to a new starter, thereby fostering a culture of knowledge exchange and growth.


  • As you become more comfortable in your role, immersing yourself in tasks and embracing the learning curve is essential. Making mistakes is inevitable, but seeking feedback on both your work and approach is critical to continuous improvement. I've discovered that sharing my methods with more experienced colleagues can also impart valuable insight that they may not have considered.

Based on my experience over the past two years, here are some longer-term pieces of guidance I would love to share with you:

  • Collaborating with team members who need assistance, learning the processes and skills of those who are considered 'single points of failure', can reduce the stress on this individual and your team.


  • Engaging in professional activities beyond your core responsibilities can broaden your awareness of what's on offer outside your Civil Service profession. For instance, I've volunteered for Civil Service Live, and assisted at General Election polling stations and participated in reviewing candidates for the Government Economic Service Degree Apprenticeship Programme.


  • Thinking innovatively about your current way of working and the processes involved can help you to reach unique solutions for unique problems. Ask yourself this question: 'Could you be the one to drive change in the way your team works in the future?'.


  • Seek diverse experiences in the tasks you undertake. In larger teams, you often have more opportunities to choose tasks you want to assist with and take responsibility for, even at the start of your position. This idea is great for finding your passion in your team.


  • Finally, setting and regularly revisiting your long-term career goals ensures that you remain focused and motivated on your journey towards success. These goals should be unique to all of us, as we all have differing barometers of success.

In summary, transitioning from an apprentice to an expert government economist is a journey marked by continuous growth and challenges. Success in this endeavour hinges on foundational principles such as a strong work ethic, a commitment to lifelong learning, and active engagement in networking opportunities. These are all skills you can begin to build up now, at the start of your blossoming career.

Thank you for reading, and I hope this provided some insight.

To learn more about my experience as an economist degree apprentice:

To read why I think it is important for apprentices to help one another:

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