“Delighted that our Professional Economics Degree Apprenticeship is runner up in The Guardian University Awards for Widening Access and Outreach.”

The University of Kent’s Professional Economics Degree Apprenticeship Programme has been named as runner up in the Widening Access and Outreach category of the Guardian University Awards 2020. This programme is the first and only Economics BSc degree-level apprenticeship in the UK.

In 2018, Kent and the Government Economic Service (GES) launched the programme with the aim of attracting a diverse new generation of economists into the profession and into the Civil Service. The project was jointly-led by the University’s Centre for Higher and Degree Apprenticeships and the School of Economics, exclusive providers of the Professional Economist Apprenticeship to GES.

The project has already yielded a first and second cohort of apprentices drawn from diverse backgrounds, many of whom had not considered that University or the life of an economist was for them. These apprentices are already actively engaged in developing and setting policy, representing their communities that will shaping UK society for years to come. Key aims of this programme include delivering important lessons on attracting diverse talent, providing a roadmap for recruitment in 2020-21 and beyond, with hopes for year-on-year improvement, by creating ambassadors for, and championing diversity in, the economics profession.

The apprenticeship aligns with Kent’s 2025 Strategy to develop the civic role of the University and enhance access via apprenticeships, as well as Kent’s long-standing commitment to widening access and excellence in outreach, and reflects GES’ 2020 strategy’s diversity commitments.

“Delighted that our Professional Economics Degree Apprenticeship is runner up in The Guardian University Awards for Widening Access and Outreach.” Alfred Duncan, one of the lecturers on the programme told us “This is a great programme with students from the Government Economic Service, the Bank of England, and local government. Being a new programme, we thought carefully about modernising the curriculum.” He is pictured here, earlier in 2020, in a macro class analysing how health and self-reported wellbeing measures vary across employment status. “This followed a session on effective economic policy communication and how central bank communication has changed since the Global Financial Crisis.”

Professor Alastair Bailey and Dr John Pearson commented that: “Economics has not always been the most diverse profession so to be able to work with the highest profile and largest employers of economists in the UK with the aim of attracting diversity is a privilege. It has been a joy to see our apprentices already making a real difference in bodies responsible for a wide range of public and private sector policy.”

On hearing the news, Michael Keoghan, Acting Director-General, Business Sectors and Chief Economic Adviser at BEIS said: “That is great, and testament to all the work that Kent, the GESR team and our original Trailblazers have done to do things differently and get better outcomes”