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 statisticians, data scientists, researchers, economists, policy experts, business support teams, data journalists, data visualisation experts, methodologists, media experts etc.
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, European Union nationals and European Economic Area nationals.
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” which is a series of different tests. This may be done as part of an interview process or at a later stage in your career.
Qualifications or experience needed
For statistical posts, the accepted qualifications are:
- a first 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 (e.g. Statistics, Mathematics, Economics, Sciences, Business Studies, Psychology, Geography or similar)
- a higher degree, e.g. a MSc or PhD, in a subject containing formal statistical training (e.g. Statistics, Mathematics, Economics, Sciences, Business Studies, Psychology, Geography or similar)
- have worked in a statistical or data science field for a minimum of two years and are able to demonstrate Continuous Professional Development (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.
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, e.g. an MSc or PhD, in Data Science, Mathematics, Statistics, Physics (this is not a definitive list)
- have worked in a statistical or data science field and are able to demonstrate Continuous Professional Development (via a log book) in statistics or data science at the same level as a foundation degree or Higher National Diploma (level five)
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 (i.e. those who are not civil servants)
Successful applicants will be assessed against the GSG competency framework for the grade they wish to join at, as part of the interview process. They will also be assessed against the Civil Service Success Profiles.
Existing civil servants
Existing civil servants who wish to join the GSG, can join through a “badging board”. These boards assess applicants’ technical knowledge and experience against the GSG competency framework for the grade they wish to join at.
Fast streamers will be assessed against the same frameworks but they go through a different assessment process. Find out more on the civil service fast stream website.
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 or a Grade 7 or Grade 6 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 go through induction training and a two-day statistical foundations course. A wide range of training courses will be available to aid your continuous professional development.
How to apply
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 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 in order 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 go through induction training and a two-day statistical foundations course. A wide range of training courses will be available to aid your continuous professional development. You will be part of a data science community 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 our vacancies page. Please note though that 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.
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 compliment 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 also 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 join the Government Statistical Service (GSS) Fast Stream you will pass a GSG badging exercise during the interview process. You can find out more on the Civil Service Fast Stream website.
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 as you build up the skills and knowledge needed to progress to senior leadership roles.
Your training will take place alongside policy fast streamers and other professions, broadening your networks beyond the analytical community. The scheme also includes secondments outside the civil service which will give you real insight into how statistics are used both inside and outside government.
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 competency framework, including:
- staff management
- project management
- building effective relationships with stakeholders
- creating and contributing to a culture of innovation
- driving continuous improvement
When you join you will go to a three-day basecamp induction session alongside other fast stream professions to introduce you to the civil service and the fast stream. A little later you will be invited to a one day induction session to introduce you to the GSS and GSG.
A wide range of training courses will be available to aid your continuous professional development as well as a range of secondments outside the civil service to develop a strong understanding of how statistics are used outside government.
How to apply
Information about the application process is on the Civil Service Fast Stream website.
Daria Gromyko, Fast Stream Statistician
My background is in mathematics and statistics, and I have always been keen to put this to good use in producing valuable and insightful analysis. The Government Statistical Service Fast Stream offers fantastic opportunities for such work, as well as providing insight into the substantial impact of government statisticians’ work on policy. My projects have been high-profile and interesting, involving engagement with users of statistics at all levels.
Since joining the fast stream I have worked in two posts at the Home Office and have recently moved to my third post in Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC).
My first post was in migration statistics, where I maintained the collection of administrative data on visas and incorporated it into the quarterly immigration statistics publication. My second post was in crime statistics, covering topics such as crime against businesses and drug misuse. The crime data I worked with came from the Home Office’s annual Commercial Victimisation Survey and the ONS’s Crime Survey for England and Wales, both of which I helped to develop.
Drug misuse is a popular topic in the press, so communicating statistical concepts clearly to press officers was an exciting and fast-paced part of the job.
My new role in HMRC takes me into the exciting world of Big Data and forecasting, focusing on co-ordinating a large collection of data through active stakeholder engagement across one of the largest government departments.
Besides gaining valuable new analytical skills and experience of working with a variety of data sources, my time on the fast stream has given me strong communication and influencing skills.
I have become a stronger leader, taking on key responsibilities in projects ranging from producing National Statistics to scoping out the feasibility of a new and complex survey.
I have also led a research project on gender diversity, commissioned by the Home Office’s Chief Scientific Adviser, and have taken many opportunities to present my work at conferences, such as the International Conference of the Royal Statistical Society and smaller subject-specific events like the Crime Survey User Conference.
My career in the civil service has been rewarding so far, with many opportunities for development. I look forward to new and exciting challenges and would recommend the GSS as a fantastic graduate employer.
Data analyst apprenticeships
Departments across the GSS run recruitment campaigns to bring Data Analyst apprentices into their departments. This is a two-year programme and teaches people the foundations of working in data analysis.
Data science apprenticeships
From 2019, the GSS recruitment team will run a cross-government campaign to bring data science apprentices into the civil service. This is a three-year programme and will teach people the knowledge, skills and behaviours associated with being a data scientist.