Osama Rahman was appointed as the Department for Education’s Director of Analysis and Chief Scientific Adviser in April 2018.
Before joining the Department for Education, Osama spent 14 and a half years at the Ministry of Justice including the Department for Constitutional Affairs before the creation of the MoJ. His most recent role was Director for Analytical Services and Chief Scientific Adviser for 3 and a half years. Prior to that he was Chief Economist for 8 and a half years.
He worked at the Civil Aviation Authority for a year on airports regulation, having spent 10 years as a lecturer and senior lecturer in economics at various UK universities.
DfE Director of Analysis and Chief Scientific Adviser
The Director of Analysis and Chief Scientific Adviser is responsible for:
Thank you so much for joining us on discover economics. How did I get here? So just who or what is an economist, there's an economic lens for every topic that you can possibly think of. The economists in our podcast are motivated by a desire to change the world. And their belief that better data and better understanding are key to achieving this change. I'm very excited and enthusiastic about learning more about what economics can offer us as a society. And what are the options when it comes to careers for young people. It's been an absolute delight to do this series. And to learn more to indulge my noisiness and to get to ask so many questions. The questions I'm hoping you as listeners will also have wanted to ask to thank you so much for listening. In this week's episode, we have summer rock man, Osama was appointed as the department predications, Chief analyst and Chief Scientific adviser in April 2018. He's a member of the government economic service board and the Chief Scientific advisors, network co chairs the departmental directors of analysis network on represents government's directors of analysis at the analysis function board. Before joining the Department of Education, sama spent 14 and a half years at the Ministry of Justice. And prior to that spent 10 years as a lecturer and Senior Lecturer in economics at various UK universities. Welcome. It's lovely to have you. Thank you. It's lovely to be here. Now I'm going to dive right in with the hardest question, it's really hard to think what were you like at school, Osama? So on the assumption that my parents are listening, possibly not the most attentive students that I was one of those who always sat at the back and made some snarky comments, and my colleagues will tell you that that aspect of me still exists that actually, the subjects I ended up doing well in are the subjects in which the teachers gave us a bit of latitude where, you know, we knew where the boundaries were, but within you know, apart from that there weren't there rigorous hard rules about behaviour. And I tended to do well in those subjects. And what's interesting is there's a mix of subjects where that happened. And so I ended up because of that doing quite well in maths, social studies. And eventually in my final year, because we had a fantastic English teacher in English as well, I've always thought it's interesting that my performance in different courses at school was very dependent on sort of the quality of the teacher and the approach that the teacher took. But I think overall throughout I think the maths results were pretty consistent. I found maths relatively, I said, relatively easy compared to other subjects. But then there were other teachers who really got me thinking quite a lot. to just get things made me realise that learning is not about memorization, or facts or anything like that. It's about thinking and applying your own thing. 100% that's so lovely to hear. I mean, I had a similar experience, and it does make such a difference. Having those teachers that can just kind of crack that for you. And like make that subject just click on like you, it sounds like I get a balance between subjects like English and math, like the sciency side on the creative side, I think are really important working together. And it's quite it's quite nice to have them working together. And in case anyone from my school ends up listening to this so therefore it's a big it's a big shout out to Mr. bailing who was one of my maths teachers, Mr. Hendrickson, who taught social studies and his husband who taught English in my final year Oh, they were very influential high fives to them. I'm really glad you included that because it is it so important. I think that he is you know, probably know as well like the thankless job that it can sometimes feel like I think although I'm hoping that a lot of teachers have felt loved this year. I'm sure a lot more students have been reaching out what kind of school did you go to whereabouts did you grow up? I grew up insulted until I was 10. And then we moved to Nigeria and the reason we moved to Nigeria is are quite open about this is my parents about doctors like that came over and Commonwealth scholarship back in the 60s I was born here and then found out like many Commonwealth doctors that the path to consultancies were blocked to them lessons a consultancy in something like geriatrics, which wasn't that popular, but you know, a consultancy in obscene guinee was pretty difficult if you want to get if you weren't white back in the 70s. And to be fair to the NHS, they have openly admitted that actually some of their promotions and how they promoted people was somewhat racist. And I think there's something important in that, that they have acknowledged that and my dad tried general practice, which is why you see a lot of common doctors from that generation group in general practice, not because they wanted to be general practitioners, but because that was the route they had open to them, didn't like it. And so we moved to Nigeria where he got an offer for consultancy at a teaching hospital in just Nigeria and it was it was not an uncommon route. for medical doctors then move abroad to work in the Middle East or in various parts of Africa or go back to you know, because many of them came from the subcontinent go back to the continent, but so we moved to Nigeria was initially meant to be for three years, it ended up being for seven and a bit. And I went to a small American international school, the school is right next door to the road. And it was quite, it was really small, it was 500 kids from first through 12th grade, and my class was only 25. So you know, it's quite a different experience from some people who go to really big schools here with like, 600 in the area, you know, my experience was very, very small, quite tight knit intimate school. Yeah. And it sounds like it was very much separated into your primary unsulphured. And then your secondary in Nigeria, pretty much. Yeah. I know. So, you know, going from English system to the American system. So our American system was actually middle, which is, you know, sort of grade six, seven and eight and then high 910 11. Boss. Yes, it was. Yeah, quite marine salt. Over there. Yeah, that sounds amazing. I noticed actually, you speak Bengali or your family from Bangladesh, or like, South India, yeah, Bangladesh, Bangladesh, my close friend from when I was a very small child, her parents came over in the 70s from Bangladesh, and lived kind of just around the corner from me in Scotland. And we've helpfully, she moved down to London just before I got here. So it was very nice to have. So I'm just thinking about you moving to Nigeria, like I know that even as an adult, moving to London, and having like, very young childhood friends around me was so important. I imagine that that was quite a big change, like kind of a childhood circle. Don't imagine anyone moved with you? No, no, it was my parents, my younger brother, me. Um, you know, the first, as is often the case, with the move that big first year, I hated it. And then after that, I didn't want to leave, I told my friends, I grew up with a Nigeria pretty regular, although very few were in the UK, most of them are in the US or a summer back in the subcontinent, the vast majority of us, and we all look back at that time as one of the best times of our lives. Oh, I don't think everyone looks back at their school time that way. But we do think there's a bunch of reasons for that ethnically, it was really mixed. So that mattered. That breaks down boundaries pretty quickly. And the other thing is, I think we were aware that we were privileged in that, you know, we were going we were going to an intellectual School, which you know, was fee paying, and everything else we understood the privilege we had. But we also were aware for some of us, like myself that, you know, much as we love this place, we're also visitors, and that has some responsibilities as well in terms of behaviour. And because, again, because it was so small and intimate, and there's some pretty tight bonds that were created, of course, and I suppose as well, there, there were a lot of people in your group that probably had a similar experience to you, where they were moved away from somewhere that they were quite established. And then yeah, and it makes such a difference. And I imagine that this will come up again, when we talk about, you know, your, your work as an economist, as well, and walking into some of these big traditional institutions. I've talked to other guests about the importance of, you know, when you walk into a room, knowing that you're not the only one who has had the experience you've had, like, knowing that there's other people in the room similar to you. There's a certain I think, I mean, correct me if I'm wrong in your experience, but I found a certain calm, let's see from walking into a room and feeling like, oh, even if there's only two or three of us that have a similar background, there's a certain comfort if you like. And I wonder if also from that comfort, comes confidence to speak up, present and do those other things that are important in your career, because it's something that is come up when we're talking about students, and kind of widening access in economics. But obviously, this applies to lots of lots of sectors and industries, is the importance of not just opening the doors. But having enough of a safety net is the wrong word, but enough of a support system that will keep that doors open. But what if it's just too terrifying for you to do anything with it? Because you're the first person in the room and you haven't had that support system around you? Yeah, I? That's a really good question. When I first got into the, you know, what's called the senior civil service, I was staying at the top Constitutional Affairs and was interesting that I was one of only two non white members out of 200 of the senior civil service in the department. I was quite interesting. You form different alliances because of that. And I remember a wonderful colleague of mine who I'm not going to name names, but then our poem sec. And she said to me, sama, you're in the sex that you got to join the meeting in the action learning set, the DCA Women's Network. Nice Exactly, and then the tags. And of course, the chair, the pod was supposed to have been working fine, because the server brilliant, you okay? Because you're going to drop the crossword Oh, hang on, hang on. But it was interesting because I was, in a sense in a way that they were minorities in the department. I was also minority in a different way. And so there was, you know, you find common grounds through those things like that. And I think one of the things we have got much, much, much, much better at in the civil service in the civil service in the 2000s. You know, I think, pretty modern times. But I think, you know, one of the things we've got much, much better at is being open about our backgrounds. Yes. So again, a friend who we had a depart for education, sex conference, and we had this fantastic speaker from one of the consultancies, who's the head of diversity inclusion, she's brilliant, absolutely brilliant talk, and talking about her background, and you know, the challenges you face that fitting in and all that. And there's a whole bunch of things that happen, like me told, you know, who, you know, they don't like it in this country. Yeah, this is for those of us who grew up in, you know, the 70s, when the National Front did March, and, yes, I mean, well into the 80s, I remember as a child as well. So, you know, there was a bit finicky though, like, keep your head down, don't get noticed, you know, they're not like us, you walk up and get beaten up, things like that. And also various other things about that, and another friend who I've known for ever since I drove the civil service, but he's also ethnic minority patient, that came up to me afterwards, and he goes, your background as well go here. And he goes of mine as well. I mean, he knows, no one knows that he knows, like, no, they just think we want them because we can, you know, because we can't, you know, we've had the educational background. So we can fit in, and everyone just thinks that we are one of them. And in a sense, you know, we're not. And I think, you know, my friend and I have been much more open about these things. And we weren't even a couple of years ago, it's not just us who are sort of senior people in the Civil Services for an ethnic minority, another friend of mine is our senior and he's from a is from a working class background is much more open about that. So we've got much, much, much better at being open about our backgrounds and pathways into the civil service. That's been great to see that is, because you want to bring your whole self wherever you go. Yeah, and to feel like because I talk to various people about the intersections of different minorities as well and it's so interesting hearing you say about joining the women's groups and things like that, it's powerful to know that it's not just the particular thing that you deal with, it's the 17 other things that the other people in this room are dealing with at the same time and so you can find that common ground across a number of things, but it's so low It's so good to hear actually that like you said that you can just be open and honest and and also hopefully I would like to think like pull people up or challenge not necessarily in a confrontational way but challenge the assumptions that people make about everyone who's African coming from the same part of Africa and I know that you'll probably get the same for the subcontinent and you know, all have those little things that add up and people make assumptions of all sorts of ways again, this was many years ago, I was arguing that we really really needed to change our entry routes into the government service and I thought we will make everything like 12 years ago so I thought we make a mistake by being fast remotely and we were losing out on really good because Mr. Justice when we come by that point, you know, people didn't listen Mr. Justice I was one of the departments they wanted to work after joining as an entry level economist because they see how economics and mha fit together so we were kind of recruiting our own initially because of my time in academia I wrote a bunch of my friends read to don't say look you know, we want to take people on and actually can't I'm kind of in prison taking people who wouldn't normally have thought about the civil service as a career and so we've got a bunch of fantastic people through that and you know, they're really around me because because it was they were only allowed to one year contracts to rub it in their official title was temporary provisional assistant economists, you know, the hammer and you see documentation TPA years I'll be blunt, we coach them into sort of all the esteem assessment centre exercises and I had the highest by far and away the highest pass rate for provisional assistant economist several provisionals getting through the faster assessment centre and I pointed out that I just as far as I can tell that the faster assess I was a bit cheeky about it, I said, you know, the faster assessment centre all that is really is a test of can you pretend to be middle class 100% Yes, I do remember and this is about assumptions I do remember you know, I was pushing me to get into the mainstream or the other health professions. And I remember one of my chief economist colleagues afterwards cornered me and said, sounds like you've got a chip chip on your shoulder because you went to a comprehensive school I really still I you know, I went to a very expensive private school. I didn't know Okay, fine. It was an international context is slightly different, but the assumption that I was doing this because somehow I haven't you For my shoulder, rather than thinking, What's stopping good people from coming in, in our definition of what talent is, is far too narrow. We make assumptions far too often couldn't agree with this more. Absolutely. And it's so interesting because I come from a working class background, but also incredibly privileged and lucky. And I think that's the other thing I like to acknowledge a lot that I've been very lucky. And we can't underestimate that sometimes. But this idea that when you flag something as being an issue, you therefore have a chip on your shoulder, I look, as a Scottish person, I find myself somewhat an expert on chips on shoulder because I, you know, we inherit a certain amount of those and are proud of them, as I like to bring up to my English husband often, but it's this idea that if you were from, you know, like you said, if you go to a really expensive high profile fee paying school you couldn't possibly have on your radar, that there are some inequalities here that are some barriers to access. It's so frustrating. Yeah, you know, like I said, we took on a bunch of really good people who hadn't come from that that sort of background who worked on university learned their economics, and they were just fantastic. And it's like, well, why are we not getting them anyway? Anyway, we really it was as simple as that. I was like, Okay, I want more people 100%. And also just thinking about economics as a subject. And this has come up in some of our other conversations, the importance, especially for talking about economists in the civil service, the importance of those economists having a diverse background, because what you do, influences the public and public policies so deeply that you need a range of experiences to make sure that you're making the best decisions, because you get more information from just that inherent mix of backgrounds gives you you know, you're already 10 steps ahead before you start. But because you bring that experience to it, I think the other thing it does is it changes the mix of things that we study in economics, you see, I kind of always see economics really, rather than a bunch of things, right? It's just a lens through which to look at the world as you have a more diverse range of economists, you then use those lenses to look at a more diverse range of issues. And I think that's why it is important to have diversity within the profession. Absolutely, absolutely. And the other thing that that I know, some of the economist special, we spoke to Andy Haldane a few weeks ago, and one of the things he brought up was, you know, as the we're getting the kind of green shoots coming up after the last recession, and was going out across the country and having those conversations about all you know, we are coming out of the recession. But in the rooms he was in, he just saw everyone's faces and was like, Well hold on a minute, the people in this room don't feel like they're coming out with a recession. Clearly, I've got some questions to ask here. And yes, to have people like that, actually, in the civil service, not just relying on that outreach element of getting out there and talking to people, but also making sure that they are an inherent part of the system is very important. And just speaking about that system, I would really like to maybe jump forward a little bit to the role you're in now. Can you tell us a little bit more about what that looks like? You know, being the chief analyst being the Chief Scientific advisor? That's a very big title, isn't it? And it's right at the top there. When we're talking about analysis. What does that mean in the day to day, I think what it means most importantly, it means I have a my Directorate, not just my breakfast. So the structure we have within the DFE is there's a director of Intel analysts under me in economy, static social researchers, data scientists, but we also have other divisions of analysts spread around the department. I think the main thing it means for me in the day to day is I get to look at this fantastic group of analysts we have working with us and go, Oh, my God, we're lucky to have them. So that's, that's, you know, that's important. Seriously, I mean, they just they're fantastic. And they are bright, and work hard and are dedicated and are passionate about trying to make the world a better place. So there's that the first thing. The second thing is one of the things that COVID has done is it's increased the desire for more and more data to understand issues. I mean, we we've seen it, you watch the press briefings, and they have the slides, a lot of data, you know, you have Professor Chris Whitty, the governor, the chief medical officer, you know, is famous Next slide, please. Yes. become, you know, using data and evidence to communicate what we're doing and also inform what we're doing has become even more important as a consequence of the pandemic. It's kind of, you know, there's a whole range of issues facing government and thanks, Martin, there's the levelling up agenda. There is education and economic recovery from COVID. What I'm doing on a day to day basis is actually so in terms of the bottom set is there's all these issues the department is grappling with, and my job is to make sure we have the right analysts working on these issues, to make sure that the Secretary state and ministers and the perm sec and our director generals have the evidence and information they need to be able to make the risk based decisions that they have to make in earnest money. No, no, no decision is without risk. And there's no perfect solution, but it is to help them come to the decisions of the minister to the decision, the difficult, very challenging decisions that they have to make. Yeah, that's so interesting, because that touches upon something else we've been talking about, which is the need for a type of economics literacy in the population, or economic literacy rather, because obviously, like said that, all this information and data is being presented to the public more and more, and we want it and we need it. But making sure that the access to understanding the information is there, it's one of the reasons I offered to do the podcast for the Discover economics campaign is that even if what we do through this is managed to convince more teachers and parents that the, their students should try and look through an economic lens, or at least have an understanding of how that data is, you know, collected and how to understand data better, even if that's the minimum we do. That's a success story, as far as I'm concerned. And hopefully, the success story is that we get lots more diversity and access to economics as a field. That's what we want. But it also wants to just acknowledge that, like you said, we're in a changing world where everyone does look at the data. But one of the concerns I have certainly without rapid increase in how information is presented with data and slides and graphs and things is the missing part of how easily perhaps some elements of the media and other people can take those numbers and represent them in so many different ways. And without a solid economic literacy in the population of how to kind of translate or understand it. There are obviously some downsides, if you like, yeah, there are, but I will say this, what has also come through is at least the BBC and the times, possibly others. I know, the BBC, in terms of particular people have actually got data specialist now actually working in presenting stories and things like that. So what's interesting, and I think not just fantastic, actually, they, you know, some of the articles they have written trying to get the public to understand the story behind the data and evidence are uncovered. And it's, you know, a really, really good, yes. So I think, you know, this is something that I think, you know, not you've identified, I think media organisations have also recognised this, like, it's not just the BBC, I've seen brilliant articles on this in the times and the guardian and everywhere. I mean, they had been really working hard in putting articles together to really break help people understand, I wouldn't quite say it's a deli, but I help understand all the data that they're seeing presented to them. And all the evidence is being presented to them and get this understanding risks. I think actually they're doing they've been doing some fantastic work on that. Absolutely. Agree. Yeah, I agree with that. Definitely. And I think it is just, it's like everything else, I suppose it's happened with COVID is that all of these, I suspect quite natural movements of things like flexible working, and you know, all those other things that have happened so rapidly. And I think this is one of those elements. I would also give a shout out to the independent and Bloomberg who have also done quite a lot of nice videos and things like that, to do nice explainers about where these numbers come from and what they mean. Because it's it's a really important part of it. Yeah. And that's why I wasn't picking those three, just because they won't let the three I look at the most. I think it's one of these things that all the major media organisations have picked up on said, okay, we need to help the public understand all this data. Yes, 100%, I'm gonna give them all the benefit of the doubt I used to work at The Guardian. So I'm always very, not very cynical, but I'm a little bit cynical of motives of every single publication, I find that's the best way to be. If you're slightly cynical of everyone, then you can cut through most things. I like reading a broad balance of paper because I think all papers have a stance and it's interesting I, I tend to subscribe to a whole bunch of just to try and read get a view across the piece right there with you and international ones as well. That's an that's always an interesting one to see that balance. So to jump back into the access, if you like, we've jumped around a little bit in this by I love it because we've dived into quite a lot of things that we haven't really spoken about in the podcast too much up to this point, but just to take a tiny step back. So when you finished your secondary schooling in Nigeria, where did you go to university, I went from my second school in Nigeria with 500 kids from first to 12th grade to the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Minneapolis, which at the time was the largest single campus, largest campus University in the US with a was me and 65,000 of my closest friends. I love it. I was quite like it I, you know, I see a challenge. I'm gonna I'm gonna jump right in there. That's what that was another Whoa, I imagine, um, did anyone from your, from your school go with you in that direction? No, we all went to the US. But not all, the vast majority went to the US University, but none went to the University Minnesota, my best friend eventually ended up there doing a master's degree that was much later but not as an undergrad. And lots of them actually went to so in the university got in the US, you got these big sort of state universities in these big private universe like Harvard, and you got a whole bunch of small liberal arts colleges, as they called them chose to go to that, because I think it's maybe less of a jump from our walk, you know, but yeah, went completely opposite direction. So not because I knew I was going completely the opposite direction. But actually, because I started off at uni as an aerospace engineering major, as they call it in the US, and the University of Minnesota had a good aerospace engineering department. That was kind of why. And that's how you find yourself there. That's amazing. And when did you switch over from aeronautics? Is that the right term? Yes, aerospace. And so actually, yeah, I ended up being what was called a double major. So because you do the US structures, differences, normally a four year degree, and you major in something, and so you take the majority of your courses around that, that actually, you'll have to take math courses and other science courses to support that engineering. Plus, because it's meant to be a broad liberal education, you take a bunch of courses outside of your discipline actually sounds a lot like the Scottish university system, because I had a similar thing where you have your core subjects, but you can take as many credits, I did them joint honours English and linguistics, and randomly did courses on biology and Latin. But I believe that the American system is a bit more challenging. I hope no one from university in Scotland university system jumps on me No, but yeah, there's there's definitely differences, shall we say? So I was doing a double major aerospace engineering in computer science. And eventually, I found that odd. So I did an aerospace engineering because I liked growing aeroplanes, he asked me what I did at school good enough reason as any, I sit at my desk, draw aeroplanes and I thought, oh, I'll go and grow aeroplane realise, no, no, aerospace engineering, you don't get to draw aeroplanes, you get to solve yet another boring fluid dynamics problem. Boring. I like engineers, they are very solid down to earth, people really like engineers, computer science. So this is Yeah, I'm quite old. This is a long time ago. Computer Science, I love the subject, I got to be honest, some my fellow students in computer science, you know, their best friend might have been the PC, to be honest. And I thought, I'm not I want to work with you on your thing, but you know, and then I took a honours. So in the US, you can graduate with honours, which is if you grow, you know, you do really well. And some courses are offered as an honours version, which is a more intense version. So I took honours principles of micro, and I loved it. And the thing I loved about it was it was kind of geeky. So because it was honours, it was taught with a bit of calculus, right? Which is fine, you know, because it's new and all that. But you could talk about it, it was it was, it was about issues, you've talked about, okay? You want to you can only really talk to other engineers, engineering, with economics, you know, it's about it's focused on social issues. And you can talk about social issues. And what, as I said, I go back to it's a lens that gives you a bunch of tools and lenses through which to examine the world and social issues. So it has that mix of slightly geeky, but about stuff you can talk about. And I like I like this. So this is actually my third, like my third year, it was only meant to be a fourth four year degree. I really liked this. I actually might have even been my fourth year at the start my fourth year, I'm going to switch and do an economics degree. So I found my parents, I'm switching, are you? Yes, I'm going to do an economics degree and stay on an extreme. So I took a whole bunch of courses out of order. So Chris Sims who won the Nobel Prize with Tom solder A while back, so Christian professors, he took the legendary it's their art, you know, there's interviews about how the legendary this econometrics courses, so I took his metrics. He's both great econometrics. And to be blunt, I was pretty, I was pretty lost in it, but somehow managed to do well. And I realised that this is something I wanted to continue with. So ended up graduating with what sort of semi official degree was. I have a Bachelor of Science in economics with a mathematical emphasis with minors in Mathematics and Computer Science. Nice. Quite Yeah. Yeah, it's basically I did economics, but slightly, the geeky end of what it sounds like it really clicked for you like you find your place. Like through doing all of those things, you find the bit that fit you best. Yeah. Again, I think there's something interesting in that and you're spot on through Having to study bit more widely, I found the thing that clicked for me. Yeah. And it's kind of bizarre, isn't it? Because it you know that that one module changed my life. I know that sounds a bit melodramatic. But you know, until then I was doing engineering computer science. And I continue that my career path has been completely different. And I think it's one course we got, oh, my God, this is so interesting. I'm going to switch. And everything changed from that. And I think it's not uncommon for people. And now, interestingly, I think goes back to what you were saying earlier about access. And the challenges of programmes, like the fast stream, is that we've got to give people opportunities to do those random modules, or do those little courses or, or just even one lecture that just lets them experience enough things so that people can find where they fit. And that's really hard to give people and my school didn't do economics, I didn't know what economics was a genuine thing, but no idea what it was no idea, I assume. I think I kind of assumed like your notes. It's all about money. And then of course, you take it with you really not about money. And that's why I took it was like oh, this is awful. I don't know about this subject. I might as well take an intro course just to get a flavour of what it's like. And wow, change everything. Yeah, I think also, we need to get like snappier titles for some of the access to economics courses so that people don't know it's economics, then just get them in. So the one interesting thing for all this is I was taking things out of sequence and got into grad school at the University, a lot of large US universities, you can take courses over summer, you can even take them compressed. So the minister worked on quota system 10 week term, so I was gonna take principles of intermediate macro. Yeah, at the same time compressed over five weeks. By this point, I've gotten to school with a fellowship, the graduate supervisors basis. Yeah, grad macro is completely different files graduation for so I have a degree in economics, but didn't do any undergrad macro. That's my guilty secrets. Exactly. I've been quite open about this. I don't know. You know, this stuff. Sad. I don't know, didn't do that. I didn't quite I'm quite open about that. You know, I did graduate post, I did Greg post grad level macro, but not the interesting sort of intuitive macro that you get when you studied in undergrad level. But that's really interesting, because of a number of our guests have had that slightly, let's say sideways, or, like you said, I have order path into economics. And also anyone who I've talked to who has had that type of path, you know, through our conversations, you know, there, there's clearly a lot of benefits to that. Like there's some interesting things that come out of doing things slightly in the wrong order, or slightly sideways, or taking breaks between things. I know, talking to Rachel Griffith, like she had a big gap between Junior undergrad and then going into economics at all. And I find that quite interesting. It's I work with a number of young people and say to them all the time, like I understand there's a pressure to decide what you want to be. But everyone I know, has changed that every six to 10 years, you know, as they've gone into the workplace. Yeah, I still want to be a jet or not. I mean, amen to that. I mean, I still have hopes of being an astronaut one day, I knew, right? I think, you know, it's important that people don't just sort of end up at 18 on this. Well, sir, I think for some, you know, that there's path that's going to take me to retirement at 65. Others have to explore things, but you know, take a sideway step, do something different for a bit and find out what they're, you know, they call it a calling sounds a bit random. But you know, I mean, I think I think that's trudel. Because I mean, I certainly relate to that, you know that, you know, people talk about things being a vocation, and like you said, like a calling, and sometimes it does take people a long time to find that path. But what I love about what discover economics is trying to do as well, is that people have a certain understanding about certain fields, because they're just so familiar to us. And what we need is to make sure that there's that familiarity as well with things like being an economist, and like I said earlier, like, and a number of other industries that would definitely benefit from more, you know, for better access, widening access. Because if everyone has just more of a deeper understanding, then you can make better choices, that it's exactly what you were saying about informing the government, about policy, and informing the public about what's happening, any choice you make, is a better choice when it's a more informed choice. And that's why I really appreciate like us being able to, you know, do these interviews with with all of the economists and economic researchers and people in this field because we just want to build that familiarity so that people are making really good informed choices. And something that stood out to me and I wonder if this is the same for you, given what you were like at school, or how you described yourself and your time teaching at university or electronic University. I used to teach further education so kids who came out of GCSE end level and wanted to just get straight into the workplace. And the more Learn about what makes a good economist, the more I think some of those naughty kids, some of the naughty kids I dealt with. And some of the I say, quote unquote, naughty because they were always my favourites, the ones who would challenge everything are actually the ones that we would really benefit from getting into the world of economics. Oh, absolutely. I always want people in my team. Well, I'm just gonna listen to what I say, gonna tell me what they think. Yeah, absolutely. And just keep asking questions. It's like you said earlier about, you know, a good education isn't about memorising stuff. It's about understanding what it means to learn. And getting that curiosity, given the kind of fundamental role that economics plays in our society, and everything that it touches. You know, I think that's even more important that people in the field, you know, like I said, Have that curiosity? And certainly, from my experience, that's what everyone who's come on the podcast has in speeds. So this will be quite a difficult question. I apologise in advance, and I will give you some time to think about it. But maybe you'll surprise me. So I always ask people, what in your kind of career as an economist, what are you most proud of to date? Because I'm sure that we lots of things in the future, but to date, what would you say you're most proud, because it's actually quite easy to get. And it's not actually any of the policy stuff I've worked on. It's actually having worked with a fan. And you know, been asked, you know, leading a fantastic team, that set up the country's first economics degree apprenticeship. And that has really helped. And that's helped open access into the subject and also into the GDS. That is what I without any doubt, whatsoever, most proud of so far, and again, to be crystal clear, it was not just me that did that it was a whole bunch of people, but it is, you know, cuz you only do these things. You only deliver these things if it's part of a team effort. But it is without any doubt whatsoever that I mean, I'm not surprised. Because I mean, people have certainly my generation, you hear the word apprenticeship, and you think plumbers, like my dad, left school at 14, mechanic, etc. But there's so much more they are. And it's so it's such a valuable path to so many things. Can you tell us more about the apprenticeship and I do also want to include some links, you know, links to resources and different things in this, the apprenticeship programme would definitely be something that I think schools, and certainly parents should should have a look at. So the background is I go back to some of the things I said earlier, and this goes back to sort of when I was going we need to open up to the mainstream have a means to have a more diverse pool of applicants and entrance into the GS Ed actually, you know, and that didn't happen, help but I did realise we need to go further, you know, what we realise actually, for some people, you know, standard model of Off you go three years at university, that model didn't necessarily work. For various reasons, it might work for various reasons we wanted again, it was, I think it's been quite if you look at the sort of intakes we've had in progress, we wanted again, to get more diverse intake into the profession. But also, because the degree apprenticeship, it's the thing to remember is everything is it's a degree, it's not, it's a job. It's a job that comes with a formal training element, a formal in classroom training element that complements what you're learning on the job, and they complement each other, that eventually over time, will also lead to a bachelor's degree from a good university in economics. So that's what it's about. I'm glad to say that after we set it up, the Bank of England are taking the group premises basically through the scheme we've set up. So each scheme is separate. So So ours is the GDS Applied Economics degree programme that actually we set the width Institute for apprentices, we set the model for how it works, and we have the provider, it's the same provider, also, the Bank of England arop have apprentice economists, the big consultancies do is gain traction. The interesting thing is because the intake profile is quite diverse in many ways, you know, our academic provider, we picked an academic, you know that the academic provider that won the contract was the one that actually was able to show that they understood what the apprenticeship was all the training aspects that it wasn't just that you repackage your regular lectures into some sort of online lecture. That's so important. Exactly. It has to be tied in to what they're doing. And it also has to recognise that actually, a lot of these kids normally would not have got proper you know, would not have gone to university and have not been for a degree apprenticeship. So the at the end of it, they will come out with a degree in economics, but you know, our academic partner, the University of Kent, put in a huge amount that amount Ragnaros has put in a huge amount of effort thinking about what this means in terms of the teaching and getting the teaching right and getting the quality of the teaching right. That's, you know, been incredibly important. That's so interesting because I spent, I spent a long time before before doing what I do now, working on the commercial team at The Guardian and I mostly worked in education section and we spent a lot of time talking to all the different quangos at the time about the about apprenticeships, and, you know, further education and higher education and the the crossover and and how that all works. And what you're describing here to me, is very reminiscent of what on a much smaller scale. A lot of the really good efy colleges try and do when they work with their local employers to put together programmes. Yeah, it's that working closely, you know, with employers figure out what actually works. I like I said, you know, it was such a team effort. And, you know, the people thought that we should do this in everything we had is we had a complete and utter support of Claire Lambert, aliens and Becca, who were the who are the heads of the joint heads of the GS. So there was a whole bunch of things, everyone believed that we should do this. And that is what made it happen. Yes. Again, it's such an important element, isn't it? It feels like almost serendipitous that those things happen at the same time. Because I can think of various times over the last, say 15 years, or 20 years even were one of those kind of team members, shall we say like maybe the university or one of those parts of the jigsaw would have been ready for it. And proactive and excited about doing it. And maybe one of the others like see Bank of England or who or whoever it might not have been the right time for them to step in. It just seems like this is all obviously all come together. And like you said it needed every single part to be on board to make it work. Yeah. And I think, you know, the reason they all came on board is because by this point, I think there's already been some pretty wide discussion about, you know, the professional was too well, just wasn't diverse. And I think that had been going on for a bit before this, and then ever realise, actually, this is one way to help make it more diverse. I wish I could speak to you for another hour, because I know I'm about to run out of time. Again, there's so many things in this that that we've tried to touch upon in other episodes and, and I'm hoping that we can convince you to come back on for another episode in the future. And we can talk about this even even more detail. Thank you so so much for your time. It's been so interesting. And we've touched upon a number of things that we haven't touched upon in other interviews, and I really appreciate it. And that's that for that episode. Thank you so much for listening. We hope you enjoyed it. And if you want to get in touch with any questions, please visit our website to discover economics dot code at UK, where you'll also find loads of useful resources. And if you've enjoyed the podcast Remember to go to Apple podcasts rate and review. Also remember to subscribe through whichever podcast app you're using to view always get any new episodes as soon as they're published. See you in the next episode.