Office for National Statistics Undergraduate Working Group on Economic Statistics

The beginning…

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) has well established engagement frameworks with traditional stakeholders such as other government departments and businesses.

However, ‘younger users’ was one of the areas we wanted to improve our engagement in as well as improving our capability by encouraging more undergraduates leaving university to consider ONS as a potential employer.

So how do we do this?

In 2013 we launched the ONS Undergraduate Working Group on Economic Statistics. The planning for this group took place in the summer of 2013, with the first meeting in November 2013.

Sounds easy? Well it wasn’t as difficult as splitting the atom but there were a few challenges along the way!

Some key lessons learnt were:

CTR1         CTR2         CTR3         CTR4

Ok, it was a bit challenging but what does the group look like now?

Three universities are involved – University of the West of England, Cardiff University and Swansea University. 24 students are taking part, mainly 2nd and 3rd years but a couple of 1st years too either studying economics or maths.

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The remit for the group is:

  • How to present statistics: commentary, products etc.
  • Measurement methods and approaches for key economic statistics: education on current approach and seeking ideas for improvements
  • How economic and statistical theory is turned into reality: assumptions that have to be made – are they sound or can they be improved?

There are three meetings per academic year, which are hosted at the ONS. The group are split into teams to take on projects between meetings and each team are assigned an ONS mentor for guidance and support. The teams look at some of the projects the ONS are working on and put forward recommendations to help improve work output. This approach has been successful by keeping undergraduates interested, help develop relationships, whilst gaining experience in delivering projects and for them to have tangible outcomes of their efforts and clear sight of how they have made a difference.

An important mission…

CTR5This is one of our case studies showing our involvement with the ONS.

The project involved getting the undergraduates together to examine a publication and offering feedback, whilst working alongside the Good Practice Team for guidance and support.

Check out our case study to the left to see how the project was deemed a success!


Is it all worth it? Absolutely!

We now have:

  • Regular access to an important segment of our user base with fresh perspective and ideas.
  • Raised the profile of ONS as a potential employer; already, some members of the group will joining ONS on 1 year placements as part of their university course
  • The undergraduates are receiving unique access, insight and involvement in official statistics

How to find out more…

If you are interested to find out more, or would like some support in creating your own undergraduate group then please contact the Good Practice Team.