Joining the GSS and GSG
Joining the Government Statistical Service (GSS)
The GSS collects, analyses and publishes official statistics to help government, business, and the public make informed decisions. This could be a citizen interested in the crime rate in their area or a government minister trying to improve the UK economy.
Everyone who works with official statistics is automatically in the GSS. You don’t have to pass a badging exercise or any other tests.
This means the GSS is made up of many different job roles, including: statisticians, data scientists, researchers, economists, policy experts, business support teams, data journalists, data visualisation experts, methodologists, and media experts.
Location of posts
We have posts available in many government departments in London and across the UK.
All posts are open to United Kingdom (UK) nationals. Most departments also have posts open to Commonwealth citizens with the right to work in the UK, European Union nationals and European Economic Area nationals with settled or pre-settled status. Each job advert will advise of the requirements for that post they are advertising.
The GSS is an equal opportunities employer and welcomes applications from all suitably qualified persons regardless of their race, sex, disability, religion or belief, sexual orientation, or age.
Joining the Government Statistician Group (GSG)
The GSG is the professional community for civil servants who are recognised members of the statistics profession. When you join the GSG you are called a “government statistician” or “government data scientist”.
Entry criteria and assessment
To be eligible to join the GSG you need to have certain qualifications or experience. If your application is successful, you will then need to pass something called a “badging exercise”. This involves undertaking a GSS online test and GSG Technical assessment. This may be done as part of recruitment process or at a later stage in your career.
Qualifications or experience needed
For statistical posts, the accepted qualifications are:
- a first-class or second-class honours degree in a numerate subject (2:1 minimum for Assistant Statistician and 2:2 minimum for Statistical Officer) containing at least 25% taught statistical content (for example, Statistics, Mathematics, Economics, Sciences, Business Studies, Psychology, Geography, or similar)
- a higher degree, such as an MSc or PhD, in a subject containing formal statistical training (for example. Statistics, Mathematics, Economics, Sciences, Business Studies, Psychology, Geography, or similar)
For statistical data scientist posts, the accepted qualifications are:
- a first- or second-class honours degree in a numerate discipline, computer science or IT equivalent which demonstrates core statistical skills.
- a higher degree, such as an MSc or PhD, in Data Science, Mathematics, Statistics, Physics (this is not a definitive list)
Alternatively, you could apply if you have worked in a statistical or data science field for a minimum of two years and are able to demonstrate Continuous Professional Development (CPD) (via a logbook) in applying statistics or data science at the same level as a foundation degree or Higher National Diploma (level five), which demonstrates the expected skills as outlined in the GSG Competency framework.
You could also apply if you have achieved or are on track to achieve a level 4 apprenticeship including at least 2 years in a statistical or data analysis field in government and are able to demonstrate continuous professional development in statistics or data analysis (via a CPD logbook signed off by a manager or mentor who are members of the statistical profession).
Please note candidates may apply in their final year of study while they are still awaiting their qualification result, however, formal contracts can only be offered upon confirmation of the achievement of the relevant qualification. In the case of an apprenticeship, this includes completing two years’ work experience in a statistical or data analysis field in government as part of attaining the qualification.
How you will be assessed
New entrants (those who are not civil servants)
If you are not already a civil servant, you can only join the GSG through a recruitment campaign. You will be assessed against the GSG competency framework for the grade you wish to join at, as part of the interview process. The assessment will be aligned to the Civil Service Success Profiles and may include other elements.
Existing civil servants
If you are already a civil servant, you can join the GSG through a “badging board”. Badging exercises are run quarterly and can be applied for using your Civil Service Jobs account. These boards assess your technical knowledge and experience against the GSG competency framework at your current substantive grade. The quarterly exercise is not a recruitment campaign therefore will not lead to a job offer.
If you are looking to join the GSG as well as change roles, you can apply to a GSS Recruitment campaign that includes badging. This route is also appropriate if you are already GSG badged, and wish obtain promotion. If successful, you could then be considered for a new position, your preferred location will be used to help identify suitable roles in recruiting departments.
If you have any questions about the quarterly badging exercises or recruitment campaigns, please email GSS.Recruitment@ONS.gov.uk.
Fast Streamers will be assessed against the same frameworks but will go through a different assessment process. Find out more about the Civil Service Fast Stream.
Updating your GSG membership details
When you become a GSG member, you will be sent a membership form to complete. Collecting membership data enables GSG support teams to:
- understand the number of professionally accredited GSG members across government.
- verify that individuals are GSG members
- understand and analyse the composition, demographics, and movement of GSG members across government
- provide GSG members with GSS learning interventions and events
- conduct workforce planning to support the policies of the GSG through, for example, providing projections of the future expected number of GSG members
Throughout your time as a GSG member, your circumstances may change. It is important that we keep your membership details up to date, so our records remain representative of our community and our reporting remains accurate. Please complete our online Change of Circumstances form if any of the following details change:
- your name
- your email address
- your department
- your office location
- your grade
- your working pattern or full-time equivalent (FTE)
- diversity information
- you are leaving the Civil Service
If you have any questions, please contact GSS.Careers@ons.gov.uk.
More details on the routes into the GSG
If you join as a government statistician, you will have passed a GSG badging exercise as part of your interview.
The lowest grade you can join at is a Statistical Officer. But it is also possible to join as a Higher Statistical Officer, Senior Statistical Officer, a Grade 7 Principal Statistician or Grade 6 Senior Principal Statistician.
You will have the opportunity to work across a range of government departments, agencies and other public bodies playing a pivotal role in government decision making.
You will collect, process, and analyse the data underpinning our society and economy. From tax, to transport, to health, policing, and the environment, you can expect to see your analysis hitting the headlines on a regular basis and being used by decision-makers in government and industry at the highest level. You may often give expert statistical advice to the non-statistical communities in your department.
You will be required to apply your statistical skills to innovate and solve problems in data management and analysis using a range of software packages and analytical techniques. The ability to explain and communicate your findings will be essential.
When you join you will have a full induction. A wide range of training courses will be available to aid your continuous professional development.
How to apply
Case Study: Davita Patel, Statistical Officer
I studied mathematics at the University of Hertfordshire which sparked my interest in learning more about the statistics produced in the UK. This prompted my decision to join the GSG.
On joining the I quickly realised the amazing opportunities that are available, and I really appreciated the supportive atmosphere.
I currently work in the environment statistics team at the Department for Transport (DfT), producing statistical reports and summaries on UK greenhouse gas emissions and air quality issues, as well as leading on the survey analysis of public attitudes towards electric vehicles.
My team has a well-defined and collaborative relationship with our policy and analyst customers, which means we’re involved in lots of high profile, interesting policy areas. I have been involved in making sure the statistics included in the emissions ministerial pack were up to date and accurate.
Here at DfT, we also have a reputation for producing excellent data visualisations and this is something I am extremely passionate about. I strive to do the best I can to make our statistics more visually engaging for our customers.
I really enjoy the fast paced, challenging atmosphere in my department and the flexibility of my job which means I get involved in a lot of topical policy areas. I am looking forward to building my career in the GSG.
If you join as a government data scientist, you will have passed a GSG badging exercise as part of your interview.
The lowest grade you can join at is a Statistical Data Scientist. But it is also possible to join as a Higher Statistical Data Scientist, a Senior Statistical Data Scientist, or a Principal Statistical Data Scientist.
You will work at the heart of government, playing an integral role delivering insight from data using statistical and data science techniques. You will support the creation of innovative data products and services and tell compelling stories with data.
Data scientists have access to rich sources of data held by government departments and can combine this data with other datasets to tackle key challenges facing the economy, health, education, and transport.
Using programming skills and knowledge of statistics, data scientists can have a real impact on improving the business of government.
When you join you will have a full induction. A wide range of training courses will be available to aid your continuous professional development. You will be part of a data science community that will be ready to support you in your development.
How to apply
All government data scientist roles are advertised on the Civil Service Jobs website. Most of the government data scientist posts relevant to the GSG will also be advertised on the Analysis Function vacancies page. Data Scientist roles may also be advertised through other government professions such as the Digital, Data and Technology profession or the Government Operational Research Service.
Case study: Joanna Lee, Data Scientist
Before joining the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) as a data scientist, I completed a PhD in computational biochemistry. My role gives me the opportunity to explore open-source techniques that complement and extend my projects, challenging and extending the scope of analysis done within the MoJ.
My role has seen me use programming and statistical skills that I developed in my PhD. I am using statistical methods to explore if prisoners taking part in educational activities affects reoffending rates. I ensure I properly adjust my measurements to account for factors that can also influence the reoffending rates, such as age or sex.
Another project I worked on was a collaboration with another data scientist in MoJ. We tackled the problem of matching partial addresses in administrative data to full addresses. This improved on previous software significantly.
I have also had the opportunity to explore free text administrative data that is collected by the National Offender Management Service. This has many issues to tackle, since it is a large, unstructured data set. This means it is unwieldy to process and requires careful consideration to account for the large volume of noise that occurs due to so many entries.
The wider data science community within the Civil Service has been a welcoming and practical environment. The network has been invaluable, and we have frequent discussions about new techniques, with critical peer reviews that promote effective tools.
One of the greatest advantages of being a data scientist is the enthusiasm of others about my projects and their own. Everyone is willing to help, providing expertise in techniques they are familiar with.
One important aspect of being a data scientist in government is that I have the space and time to explore novel techniques. Some of these will fail, but this is outweighed by the benefit of those projects which succeed.
If you work in a role related to statistics but you are not designated as a government statistician or data scientist, you are in the GSS but you are not part of the GSG.
You can join the GSG by applying for a badging exercise. These are run on a quarterly basis, contact GSS.Recruitment@ons.gov.uk for more information.
If you are already a member of the GSG but are then promoted through an unbadged campaign, your badged grade will not match your new substantive grade. To rectify this, you can apply to a badging exercise to bring your badged grade in line with your new substantive grade.
GSS Recruitment also run two apprenticeship campaigns.
Data analytics apprenticeship Level 4
This is a two-year programme and teaches people the foundations of working in data analysis. You will be eligible to join the GSG if you complete the course and maintain a CPD log covering 2 years working in government. You can then apply for a permanent position and join the GSG through a GSS Recruitment Statistical Officer campaign or a Statistical Data Scientist campaign.
This is a four-year degree programme and will teach people the knowledge, skills and behaviours associated with being a data scientist. Graduating with this qualification will make you eligible to join the GSG. You can then apply for a permanent position and join the GSG through a GSS Recruitment Statistical Officer campaign or a Statistical Data Scientist campaign.
If you join the Government Statistical Service (GSS) Fast Stream, you will join the flagship training scheme for future statistical leaders.
Over the four-year scheme you will experience statistical work in a range of government departments. You will also build up the skills and knowledge you will need to progress to senior leadership roles.
Your training will take place alongside policy fast streamers and other professions, which will broaden your networks beyond the analytical community. The scheme also includes an opportunity for either:
- a short secondment outside the civil service which will give you insight into how statistics are used both inside and outside government
- a posting to another government profession where you can increase your broader development, for example, in a policy role
In each statistical role you work in, you will join a team of experts working together to produce a range of statistical analysis to help shape decision making. You will use a variety of statistical packages and develop your dissemination skills to communicate your findings to a range of customers.
As well as developing your statistical skills you will be enhancing skills in line with the Civil Service Success Profiles, including:
- project management
- building effective relationships with stakeholders
- creating and contributing to a culture of innovation
- driving continuous improvement
When you join the GSS Fast Stream you will attend a weeklong basecamp induction session alongside other Fast Stream professions. This will introduce you to the Civil Service and the Fast Stream. This will be a mixture of on-line and in-person events. A little later you will be invited to an induction event where we will introduce you to the GSS and GSG.
A curriculum of analytical learning is available to aid your continuous professional development whilst on the Fast Stream.
You will need to pass a GSG badging exercise during the interview process. This means you will become a member of the Government Statistical Group when you join the Fast Stream.
You can find out more about the Fast Stream, and how to apply, on the Civil Service Fast Stream website.