The UK public sector comprises a broad range of government departments and non-ministerial organisations. It includes local government (county councils and London borough councils), major public bodies like the NHS, and departments based around the country such as HMRC (based in Newcastle) and the Office for National Statistics (based in Newport, Wales).
Graduates with a mathematical degree are in high demand across the public sector. Depending on the career and the department you may find that a specific degree is needed, or that you need to complete certain modules (such as statistics) during your degree.
- Analyst - All departments generate or collect vast amounts of data, and as an analyst you will put your data science skills to use for different projects and tasks. This includes Compliance Analyst for oversight organisations such as Ofgem, Intelligence Analyst for the Prison and Probation Service or the National Crime Agency, and Modelling and Forecast Analyst for public-facing departments such as HM Courts and Tribunals Service.
- Statistician - The Office for National Statistics may seem like the most obvious place for statistics graduates to apply, but statisticians are in demand in multiple government bodies, from the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to the Health and Safety Executive. Tasks can include assessing the quality of the data that has been generated, using statistical techniques and software to draw out evidence relating to the area of interest, and explaining the results to a range of audiences including those with minimal statistical experience.
- Accounting, finance and auditing - Every year government departments oversee budgets worth billions of pounds and they need mathematicians to oversee spending and ensure the public gets value for money. Capital Accounting Officer roles can be found in many public sector bodies, from the Ministry of Justice to the Forestry Commission. Auditing roles such as Assurance Officers carry out reviews and oversee finances and can be found in organisations such as the Department for Education and the Ministry of Defence. There are also specialist finance agencies such as the Office for Budget Responsibility, or the Government Actuary’s Department which periodically recruits Graduate Trainee Actuaries.
For some roles you may find that you need additional qualifications in auditing or accountancy, membership of a particular professional body, or a Masters degree in a “highly numerate subject”.
Civil Service Fast Stream
The Civil Service Fast Stream is a paid professional development programme that helps graduates develop the skills needed for senior leadership roles within the Civil Service.
There are fifteen different schemes of varying durations and starting salaries, and may require you to have a specific degree in order to qualify. For example the Diplomatic and Development Scheme lasts for 2 years and requires a minimum of a 2:2 degree but doesn’t specify a subject, while both the Government Statistical Service and Government Operational Research Service require a 2.1 in a “highly numerate” subject, or a 2.2 and a postgraduate degree in a subject such as mathematics or statistics.
Applying for the Fast Stream is highly competitive but you can apply again if you are unsuccessful first time round. Starting salary can be around £24,000 a year, but on successfully completing your scheme you can be eligible for roles ranging from £40,000 to £50,000 a year.