When teens descend on the Treasury

This October half term, the Treasury threw open its doors to 15 students looking to gain a unique perspective on the life of a civil servant. We do this every year, for our Youth Outreach Programme.

One of our guests, Shanita, had this to say about her experience:

Shanita outside the Treasury building (Photo: HMT)

Last week, I lived the life of a civil servant; gaining career skills, and learning about what the Treasury actually does.

The week was organised by the Treasury and London Youth, a charity which gives young people access to a range of work experience and volunteer opportunities; from sports, to politics, to finance. As a second year politics student at The University of Warwick, I knew straight away that getting inside HMT was something I would love to do.

It is easy to study what the Treasury theoretically does in a classroom; but to gain a true appreciation for what actually happens, the workload involved, and the relationship with other institutions, there is no better way than to actually spend time working with the staff.

We were all given the opportunity to ask Tom Scholar, the Treasury’s Permanent Secretary, any questions we wanted. I was particularly interested in his other interests and learning about the people that make up the institution (turns out the “Perm Sec” is a wannabe rockstar!).

The Youth Outreach group of 2016 outside The Treasury Building (Photo: HMT)

My favourite part of the programme was the interactive sessions, particularly the International Crisis Workshop, organised by the Ministry of Defence. This workshop involved a hypothetical international crisis, and we worked in teams to deliver a press conference, unveiling our ‘plan of action’.

This demonstrated the importance of reaching a consensus and how difficult it is to do so. I really enjoyed this workshop as it was really realistic, with new information on the crisis being received throughout the day, even during the press conference - which meant quick thinking was crucial. I was part of the winning team, and it was my role to be the ‘Prime Minister’ for the day; so most certainly a fun experience!

The group outside of No. 10 (photo: HMT)

The programme also included a tour of Parliament and Downing Street, which was amazing! As I hadn’t visited Downing Street before, I had no idea what to expect. Our tour guide was engaging and happy to answer any questions we had. We were able to visit the Cabinet; where I sat on the Chancellor’s chair. We also got to hold the Olympic torch, visit the state rooms, meet Larry, the Downing Street cat — and even meet the Prime Minister, who was on her way to a meeting!

Shanita outside of No. 10 (photo:HMT)

This was an exciting time to undertake the programme; with a huge focus on the Autumn Statement. It is one thing to learn about how it is written via a textbook, but to actually see it happening at the Treasury is a completely surreal experience which I am really grateful to have been part of.

Written by: Shanita Jetha (@Shanitajetha)

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