Economist careers in the Scottish Government

We are the largest employer of professional economists in Scotland.

The Scottish Government is the devolved government for Scotland. Its responsibilities include: the economy, education, health, justice, rural affairs, housing, environment, equal opportunities, consumer advocacy and advice, transport, and taxation.

It lies at the heart of Scotland's public services and institutions, with an annual budget of over £50 billion.

Economists in the Scottish Government

There are over 100 economists working across a range of policy areas in the Scottish Government, located in our offices in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

As an economist working in government, you will put your skills to good use directly influencing high profile public policies right across government.

Our work is wide and varied – you will use your economics skills to model economic impacts of new and existing policies on the economy and businesses, provide economic advice on the design of policy, brief Ministers and senior colleagues on your analysis, and design and manage research projects.

It is an incredibly exciting moment in the Scottish Government in driving forward Scotland’s economic transformation with our ten-year programme for economic transformation and supporting our climate ambitions, including the goal of net zero by 2045.

Government Economic Service (GES)

As a Scottish Government economist, you will also be a member of the UK-wide Government Economic Service (GES). 

The GES comprises of over 2,000 economists working across more than 30 organisations, such as HM Treasury, Foreign Office and the Office for National Statistics.

As a member of the GES, you will have the opportunity, if you wish, to move between organisations as your career develops and to work in other parts of the UK, and potentially oversees.

Economist recruitment

We are looking for people with a good grasp of economics, an ability to apply their economic knowledge to practical problems and communicate it in an accessible way.

You may not think that you have all these skills now, but what we are interested in is people with potential, enthusiasm, and a drive to learn. We will give you the support and training you need to thrive and to broaden your expertise through continuous on the job training and bespoke courses.

Due to the range of economist positions across the Scottish Government, you will also have the opportunity to move roles every 18 to 24 months, allowing you to broaden your experience and expertise in different parts of government. Career progression normally takes 4 to 5 years to move into an Economic Adviser position.

We're ambitious about diversity. We want to reflect the make-up of modern Scotland in the people we employ and the work we do. This means:

  • we aim to treat everyone – staff, colleagues from other organisations and the public – fairly, and with respect
  • we believe our workforce should reflect the diversity, character and culture of the people of Scotland
  • we treat all staff equally, irrespective of sex, marital/civil partnership status, age, race, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, religion or belief, working pattern, gender identity, caring responsibility or trade union membership
  • we employ people on the basis of their merit – their skills, aptitudes and attitude. Nothing else.

Graduate recruitment (Mainstream & Fast Stream)

The primary routes to join the Scottish Government as an economist are to apply through the GES Mainstream or Fast Stream, with the option to choose the Scottish Government as your preferred location.

Our graduate assistant economist positions are open to you if you're eligible to work in the UK and have, or are expected to achieve, at least a 2:1 degree, degree apprenticeship or higher, or a post-graduate degree in an economic subject.

We also welcome mixed degrees, but ask that at least 50% should be in economics, and welcome applications for part-time and non-standard working patterns.

Sandwich student

The Scottish Government participates in the GES Sandwich Student Placement Scheme.

This scheme is open to students in their penultimate year of undergraduate study and who are on track for a 2:1 or 1st class degree. The placement scheme acts as a gateway to a career as a government economist.

Rewards and benefits

From a competitive pension scheme, generous holiday allowance and flexible working options, hybrid working options subject to business needs, cycle to work scheme, season-ticket loans for your travel to work and our Employee Assistance Programme offering advice on a variety of issues, we'll ensure that you're well looked after.

Benefits include:

  • competitive starting salary in the B2 or BF (Fast Stream) grades 
  • choice of pension
  • flexible working patterns
  • 25 days' annual leave (rising to 30 days after 4 years of service)
  • plus public and privilege holidays

Testimonials from people working as economists in the Scottish Government

A snapshot of the stories behind some of the recent joiners to the economist group.

What inspired you to become an economist in the government?

I wanted a rewarding career, where I was positively impacting parts of society rather than working in a profit-driven industry. I particularly enjoyed the concept of economics which was touched on briefly while studying Modern Studies and Business at school, so I studied economics at university, and then I wanted to apply these skills within the public sector. Applying to become an assistant economist at the Scottish Government was the obvious choice!  – Allyson.

I like that economics finds its way into everything we do as a society. I am particularly interested in gender economics, and was inspired to become an economist to gain a better understanding of the existing structural concepts.  – Beth.   

I have always had a keen interest in current affairs and politics where economics is a central component. While economics wasn't on offer at my school, I enjoyed Maths and Business Studies which offered a pathway to studying Economics at University. I applied to be a government economist as it presented the opportunity to apply my new-found economic skills to real world problems.  – Georgia.

What roles have you worked in?

My first role is in macroeconomic analysis. I keep up-to-date with macroeconomic indicators, and conduct analysis on these in various publications. These include State of the Economy briefings, monthly economic briefs and weekly economy briefings. I also provide topical briefings on key issues (such as interest rate changes) and lead on the development of the Scottish Consumer Sentiment Indicator (an experimental statistic). My favourite part of my role is inputting lines for First Minister's Questions (FMQ's)! – Allyson.

I have been in two posts in my four years as an Assistant Economist. My first post covered business, digital and sectoral economics. This was a highly varied post which allowed me to expand my economics knowledge and interact with many areas of government. I also worked in this post during the Covid-19 pandemic when our team offered analysis to help design the emergency loans to support Scotland's businesses. I am currently working on road and rail economics in Transport Scotland which is just as exciting by offering new insights into transport economics. My day to day is usually working on large scale transport projects offering economic advice on business cases (the evidence base in support of a spending proposal).  – Georgia.

I cover the oil & gas, Carbon Capture and Hydrogen briefs. My role includes providing a weekly report on refinery markets to policy colleagues, analysing energy prices and developments in international energy markets, and completing ad-hoc briefing requests. I also work on a range of consultancy projects, scrutinising the reports provided to us by contractors to ensure they are high quality outputs. – Kieran.

What’s your favourite part of the job?

The culture - everyone's inputs are valued from the beginning of projects, making day-to-day work feel part of the bigger picture. Also, the benefits are great for creating a work-life balance. Using flexi-working (taking back extra hours worked as time off) has allowed me to take more time off additional to my standard annual leave allowance, meaning I have lots of opportunity and capability to travel and pursue my interests outside of work too! – Allyson.

The culture around learning and development is amazing. I love that we are able to rotate teams to build a range of economic skills and knowledge, whilst being encouraged to attend seminars and discover our own unique, specific areas of interest. Beth.

Being able to undertake high impact work that you can believe in. You are looking to create efficiencies for the whole country to improve life and work for a multitude of people. Also, the Scottish Government has a great working environment filled with able and passionate colleagues. Gavin.


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