Shortlisted: the first ever degree-level apprenticeship in economics

This innovative project, in conjunction with the GES, has been shortlisted at The Guardian University Awards 2020.

We are delighted that the that the University of Kent has made the shortlist for Professional Economics Degree Apprenticeship Programme in the Widening access and outreach category of The Guardian University Awards 2020.

In 2018, the University of Kent linked up with the Government Economic Service (GES) to launch the Professional Economics Degree Apprenticeship Programme; with the aim of attracting a diverse, new generation of economists into the profession.

The project was jointly-led by the University’s Centre for Higher and Degree Apprenticeships and School of Economics, exclusive providers of the Professional Economist Apprenticeship to GES.

Delivering this new apprenticeship aligns with Kent’s 2025 Strategy to develop our role as a civic university and enhance access via apprenticeships, as well as our long-standing commitment to widening access and excellence in outreach, and reflects GES’ 2020 strategy’s diversity commitments.

At the outset HM Treasury’s Chief Economic Adviser was confident the project would “create new opportunities for talented young people from all parts of the communities we serve”; it has gone on to deliver inspiring achievements.

The innovative project is built around the first ever degree-level apprenticeship in economics. Together Kent and GES designed an attraction and selection campaign, calibrated to increase diversity, with ambitious recruitment KPIs linked to gender, ethnicity and disadvatage.

The attraction campaign used dynamic, technology-driven approaches, including:

• Broadcasting lectures directly into schools to reach our target cohort, in partnership with Learn Live.
• Targeted social media engagement via an array of platforms, including a Snapchat campaign dedicated to engaging female candidates.
• A dynamic assessment process to advantage the most diverse cohort whilst maintaining high standards.

Long-standing diversity challenges within economics mean the project’s achievements are truly inspiring. We’ve seen an over 30% increase in females compared to GES faststream and have exceeded our ambitious BAME targets, blazing the trail for similar initiatives.

The project has attracted economists that reflect the communities they serve and created a roadmap for ongoing widening participation, with lessons learnt already being applied in subsequent recruitment.

The Guardian University Awards ceremony, originally scheduled for Thursday 2 April 2020 will be rescheduled for the autumn.