Rachel Allan, Research Consultant, Glasgow Office.
I became interested in a career in consultancy after having spent a few months working as part of a graduate scheme within a different sector. My degree was in Sociology and I found that I really missed carrying out research and wanted to work in a more related field where I could use and extend upon my knowledge of social issues and research methods. Consultancy also appealed to me as I liked the idea of a job based around engaging with people and where you can make a difference as the outputs from your work shape future policy development and investment.
I have now worked at ekosgen for over a year and in this time I have worked on a considerable variety of projects for a number of different clients. An interesting project that I am currently working on is a large scale research study on young people and the Highlands and Islands for Highlands and Islands Enterprise. The region continues to have difficulties with high levels of out-migration of young people so the study is looking to explore what can be done to best retain and attract young people to the Highlands and Islands. As part of the project I have managed and analysed the results of a survey of over 3,000 young people.
Other projects I have worked on include a variety of skills evidence bases, looking at the supply and demand for skills in particular sectors, for Skills Development Scotland; and evaluations and impact assessments for a variety of programmes and policies including an employability programme and policies and investments to support the development of Cultural and Creative sectors. Clients I have worked for include local authorities, the Scottish Government, government bodies, City region deals and universities.
The areas of economic development that I am particularly interested in are regeneration and inclusive growth and I have particularly enjoyed projects where I feel the work we are doing is contributing to a real difference in the lives of people who have faced inequalities and disadvantage. As well as feeling that my job is making a real contribution to society, I have also enjoyed the sheer variety it brings, both in terms of working on many different projects within different subject areas, and the variety of tasks involved. This includes designing and managing surveys, carrying out consultations, analysing primary and secondary data, carrying out policy and literature reviews and report writing.
In terms of my background, my degree was in Sociology and I have found that this has brought relevant skills and knowledge to the Research Consultant role. Perhaps most evidently this has been within the social research skills I gained from my degree, such as designing research methods, carrying out qualitative and quantitative research and data analysis. I have also found knowledge in areas such as changing employment structures, the social impact of global economic change, routes for young people into the labour market and experiences of inequalities has been useful.
In just a year working at ekosgen I have already found that I have learned a lot about different social and economic issues and the policy development process. For the future I would like to further develop my knowledge and understanding of policy issues and the research process including the development and implementation of recommendations.