Name: Barry Williams
Degree: BSc Economics, 2007, Cardiff University
Job Title: Assistant Economist
Company Name: Office for National Statistics
What do you do in your job?
Macroeconomic briefing and development work.
My job involves briefing statisticians and non-specialists on the state of the UK and world economy to provide a consistency check for National Accounts and Labour Market statistics.
I also teach non-economists some introductory economics and brief the office on potential risks associated with ONS economic outputs (with regard to external expectations).
There is also a good deal of development and analytical work which arises from other departments’ need within ONS. We are currently looking into the measurement and consistency of data for the Financial Sector of the UK economy.
How did you hear about the job and what did the application process involve?
My job was advertised on the ONS website and I heard about it through a lecturer at Cardiff University. This was a lower level position and to achieve my current grade I had to undertake Fast-Stream and Government Economic Service Accreditation. The ONS interview process involved an online application and a half day assessment centre including economics and core competency questions, a ten question economics test and a group assessment exercise.
This is similar to the GES application process which is longer and has more stages. Full details of the GES application process can be found on their website www.ges.gov.uk
What do you enjoy most about your job?
This placement was a fantastic first job from university. I have gained a much more detailed understanding of the structure of the UK economy whilst it has also allowed me to undertake research and development as well.
What is the most challenging aspect of your job?
Many tasks which come to economists at ONS are ad hoc in nature and as such you are often working to tight deadlines. You have to become expert in a wide range of areas in order to provide input. There is a steep learning curve about the processes behind the statistics which are essential to understand in order to provide accurate and useful briefing.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Having passed through fast-stream I have an implied obligation to move posts within government in order to build a wide range of experience at my current level of work. Within the next five years, I will likely be in a final post at my current level or applying for posts at a managerial level for economists within government. I have access to job trawls for all aspects of government so the department I will be working in is a mystery at present.