Successful applicants for the Government Economic Service Degree Apprenticeship Programme (GES-DAP) will study for a degree whilst working in one of various departments.
This move is part of the continuing drive by the civil service to increase diversity and open opportunities to a wider range of candidates. Some progress has been made in this area, bringing the civil service closer to its aim of becoming the most inclusive employer in Britain by 2020; however, there is still room for improvement. Whilst recent figures show that women make up 53.9 per cent of the civil service, there is still a median gender pay gap of 13.7 per cent.
People aged 17 or older from all backgrounds can apply; if successful, they will be offered a generous starting salary of over £20,000 (£22,000 in London). There are expected to be about 75 new positions, which will start from Autumn 2019 in central government departments and agencies at locations including London, Manchester, Bristol, Leeds, Newcastle and Sheffield. The Government Economic Service Degree Apprenticeship Programme will have entry requirements of a minimum grade B (6) in GCSE maths and at least 96 UCAS points, which is equivalent to CCC at A level or MMM/DD BTEC.
The role of an economist is vital in government; in addition, the skills are transferable into other sectors. In this apprenticeship, successful starters will join the Government Economic Service working for one of HM Treasury; Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy; Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs; Department for Work and Pensions; and Department for Education. Economists can work on a wide variety of projects within these areas, including advising ministers, evaluating and analysing data, and informing policy decisions.
The GES-DAP is based on the apprenticeship standard developed by a group of economist employers, such as the Bank of England and the Treasury, alongside third sector organisations and some consultancies. After completing the programme, apprentices will have an economics degree, a level 6 apprenticeship, and the significant benefit of four years’ on-the-job experience.
The chancellor of the exchequer, Philip Hammond, welcomed the new apprenticeship and spoke of how he wants young people with the right characteristics to be able to access the opportunities to succeed in this area. The new scheme was also praised by Anne Milton, the apprenticeships and skills minister.
This latest programme may go some way to redressing the significant drop in the number of people commencing apprenticeships after the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017. Figures show that there were just 290,500 new apprentice starters for the first three quarters of the 2017-18 academic year, compared with 440,300 in the same period in the previous academic year.