Graduate Development Programme 2023 - Frequently asked questions

How would you describe the company culture and work environment?

Ofwat has a dynamic and forward-thinking culture, with amazing offices in London and Birmingham and an excellent agile working environment. There’s a great team and we are driven by our SAILOR values, which connect the Ofwat culture and bring us together as a community.

We actively encourage autonomy, collaboration and innovation.  Our culture is fostered by trust, flexibility, and respect and when you join us you will experience that straight away.  Everybody comes together to create that forward thinking culture of trying things differently and being ourselves at work.

We are a learning organisation, and we actively promote and embrace new ways of working. We want everybody to have flexibility and our people work in a smarter way to achieve work-life balance. Our focus on learning means that there are great opportunities to learn and develop. We support our people to drive their own development and help shape their journey by looking at what they need as our people have different skills requirements and career aspirations.

Ofwat is a friendly place to work. A lot of people reach out to you when you first start and if you ever need any help people are very open to taking the time to meet and have a chat. In the graduate community there are a lot of people who arrange coffee catch ups to introduce themselves to you.

What makes Ofwat stand out as an employer?

At Ofwat, people are central to everything we do.  We are forward thinking and ambitious for the size of the organisation and the sector we work in. Ofwat is a creative, learning focussed organisation which ensures innovation and new ways of working.

What are the challenges to working at Ofwat (if there are any)?

It’s a reasonably complicated sector so there can be a steep learning curve when getting to grips with the sector and our regulatory approach – but you get great support along the way. Ofwat is very ambitious and committed to its mission so it can be challenging and hard work at times. Ofwat people are very giving of their time and will therefore be on hand to support you and encourage you to learn quickly.

What challenges does Ofwat face?

There are big challenges and exciting opportunities in the water industry and big change is needed if we are to have affordable, environmentally sustainable, and reliable water services into the future. Addressing these challenges while keeping service levels high and water good value is mission critical to the well-being of society. Ofwat is central to this important agenda. As the regulator we drive the performance and behaviour of water companies.  Increasingly we use our expertise to influence government policy and we join forces with the Environment Agency, consumer bodies and others to help achieve our goals. We have a clear strategy for getting the industry to do the very best that it can for customers and the environment now and into the future and we are on track to achieve our goals. Ofwat is a great place to work if you want to make a difference and help address some of society’s biggest challenges.

What is being done currently by policy to encourage transformative change and innovation in water companies?

Ofwat’s “Time to act, together” strategy focusses on transforming the performance of water companies and the wider industry and that transformation is brought about through innovation. There are a couple of recent examples of Ofwat driving innovation in the water industry, such as Ofwat’s Innovation Fund, an innovation competition where we are asking companies to compete for a pot of money to fund projects that are going to solve the challenges of the future – climate change, population growth and running out of water.

Ofwat also sets the water companies tough stretching performance targets. If they deliver on those targets, they get rewards for their shareholders and if they fail, they pay penalties. Those targets focus water companies on improving their performance. We have recently seen, for the first time in two decades, water companies bring leakage down simply because Ofwat set some very stretching expectations of company behaviour and performance which is a good example of how regulatory tools can really make a difference on the ground and do so quite quickly. Ofwat’s raison d’être is to achieve transformation not just for customers today, in terms of better service and better value, but by also getting the companies thinking much more actively about the future and solving the challenges so that our children and our grandchildren can enjoy safe, clean water and be confident that that isn’t ruining the environment as we use it.

How do you ensure that the water companies you regulate follow through on guidelines set out by Ofwat?

We use a range of tools to ensure companies are delivering for their customers and the environment. Primarily, we: encourage behaviours through incentive mechanisms and, where we consider appropriate, competition; publish reports comparing companies’ performance in various areas, and; engage and persuade. In limited circumstances we may also seek legally binding undertakings and issue fines when we have serious concerns. Our website provides examples of all of these tools.

How does Ofwat handle diversity and inclusion?

We have a big focus on Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) in Ofwat and our EDI strategy launched last year. We are committed to making sure that we are a truly diverse and an inclusive employer and reflective of the customers and communities we serve. We’ve had some great ‘Elephant in the Room’ sessions where we discuss the questions people really want to ask in a safe environment, which have been great. We want to create an environment where truly all our people come to work and feel comfortable to bring your whole self to the workplace where everybody is treated with respect and dignity and empowered to thrive.

About the Graduate Programmes

What specialisms are you looking for?

We have three streams in our Graduate programme: Economics, Data and Policy.  We welcome applications from graduates from a range of disciplines.  You’ll find more information in our Candidate Packs.

The Graduate Programme mentioned rotation across different areas of work, what does that entail?

We have a number of rotations available across our Graduate Programmes, and usually you’d take part in four rotations during your scheme.  Some graduates move across different clusters.  As you work through each rotation our aim is to develop you and to give you opportunities to develop the skills that we think you need to work with us permanently. Some graduates go into static roles which include working in one area of work (cluster).  You will be provided the same learning and development and support across all programmes.

What types of work do graduates do at Ofwat?

There is no typical day for a graduate at Ofwat! The work is diverse and as Ofwat is relatively small, graduates get a real chance to get stuck in and have an impact on the work that Ofwat does and delivers. You meet some very knowledgeable people who are really happy to help you learn, grow and develop and get great exposure and visibility, with a chance to collaborate with other regulators and bodies too.

Graduates have worked on many different projects and there are lots of opportunities to get involved in interesting work. Graduates are involved in Ofwat’s price controls, working on the design and delivery from complex analysis or high-level design. Graduates can also work on setting strong incentives to encourage water companies to provide better levels of service, through designing and delivering mechanisms that encourage the right behaviour and performance.

Other areas of work that graduates have been involved in is policy work, making sure that customers are protected through the right measures, ensuring sector resilience, encouraging innovation and supporting work around the environment. Graduates have also been involved in casework, investigating companies when things are going wrong. The responsibilities vary from leading a piece of work to doing some of the more administrative tasks around project management and coordination, but either way you get the chance to get stuck in and have a real impact!

What are the working hours?

A typical working week is 37 hours with agile working practices.

What is the onboarding and training like for graduates starting?

You will be provided a lot of day to-day support before and after you start. You’ll also be allocated a People Leader, who’ll look after your learning and wellbeing.  Initially you’ll participate in our Graduate Welcome week where you’ll get to meet a mix of senior leaders, previous graduates and profession experts to set you up with a great base of knowledge.  You’ll also have meetings with relevant departments and your team. Some of the training will vary depending on your profession and you can also book your own training if you see the right opportunity.

You’ll be able to set your own development goals as you settle in, and your People Leader will support you in accessing what you need to achieve these goals.

Our Graduates are best placed to explain more – we asked a selection of past and present Graduates about their experience and this is what they said:

How is the training structured throughout the programme and what does it normally look like?

“There are a wide range of development opportunities for example there are Ofwat Essential courses for not only new grads but for everyone across the team, which is a great opportunity for all grads to hear from in-house experts about the water sector and our work as a regulator which is key for development within the industry. There are other courses which allow you to understand the principles to help assess the impacts of our decisions at Ofwat, as well the ability to dive into Civil service and free LinkedIn learning which contain programmes ranging from soft skills through to leadership EDI and more.”

“A big part of my development has been the open and honest communications I have been able to have with my people leader. Here we have been able to discuss the work plans within the short to medium term and explore the skills that can improve off the back of it. This relationship has worked in reverse too, for example, I have been able to discuss the skills I would like to improve – receiving tasks that directly work on these.”


Additionally, Ofwat runs a series called “Tiny Talks” where colleagues offer 5-minute talks every week on topics of interest to them – these are varied and usually not work related but give a great insight to Ofwat people.  Everyone is willing to support others and contribute to help everyone increase their knowledge.


“There is no pressure on you to get things right the first time but rather, the process of learning and improving is something that is appreciated here. You are on a journey of improvement – and everyone else recognises this. Additionally, I love how micro-achievements that are part of this journey are acknowledged.”


What are the graduates’ greatest achievements?

‘My greatest achievement was something that I really enjoyed working on – delivering a new corporate governance framework for the sector. As well as developing policy skills and working in a very new area for Ofwat, it also provided an opportunity to present on the topic to senior leaders in the water sector.’ – Senior Economist and previous Graduate

‘One of my best achievements was the Graduate Challenge, a project promoted and owned by the graduates from start to end – it was a brilliant opportunity to shape a project outside of the normal rotations, develop a broader skillset including learning from the other graduates, and have a real impact on the organisation’- Senior Economist and previous Graduate

‘My greatest achievement was delivering a teach-in to the wider organisation on an area I had been working on. As I was in charge of organising it, I learnt how to manage different personalities within a team and ensure everyone was clear about their role. The project also helped me to build on my presentation skills, such as learning how to communicate difficult concepts in a simpler way.’ – Economist Graduate

What have you enjoyed most about the Graduate programme?

“I have enjoyed the open and friendly environment shown by everyone within Ofwat. The culture adopted at Ofwat has really allowed me to settle in and I have enjoyed how even senior colleagues will always make time for you to have a chat. The ability to always discuss certain situations which you are stuck on has been really helpful for me as a new grad, since you may think you have a ‘silly’ question, but you’re given confidence to ask any question to help with your learning and development. This has been really important for me as it helped me to remove the barrier of being hesitant to ask questions.” – Economist Graduate

“Each member of Ofwat is valued and appreciated for their work – partly because of the amount of responsibility each person gets. Most people know each other on a first name basis, and this goes a long way into creating a close-knit community within Ofwat.”

What did you look for in a company/role that persuaded you to apply?

“I mainly looked for a great place to work, flexibility, nice people and a friendly atmosphere. I could tell Ofwat was all these things and I have consistently been proved right.”

“Working at Ofwat looked like a good marriage between carrying out work with a strong economic focus and the chance to deliver desirable outcomes from society’s point of view. Water is arguably one our most valuable resources and so I was excited to play a small part in stewarding it well and ensuring customers are paying a fair price for it.”

“I wanted to find a role where I would be challenged intellectually but more importantly made a difference for society. Additionally, I placed a high value on finding a healthy work culture, where people take pride in their work but also know how to not take themselves too seriously. It was clear from day one that colleagues care about the work they do and I have been well supported since joining but also empowered to take ownership of the work I’m involved in.”

What particular things have you enjoyed most whilst here?

“I’ve enjoyed coming into the office and meeting everyone so much, it is such a supportive and lovely environment to be a part of.”

What’s it like working at Ofwat now?

“There is a great variety to the work I carry out week on week. Being a relatively small organisation means there is scope to take ownership of areas from an early stage and take opportunities as they arise. I’m grateful for the wide array of opportunities I’ve had since I’ve joined. I find it easy to see how the work I carry out day to day plays a role in protecting the interests of customers and safeguarding water for generations to come.” – Current Graduate

“After the Grad Programme, I moved to work on the price review. The work is exciting and fast-paced, and there is always plenty of new issues to think through and apply robust economic thinking to. But it’s the people you work with that really make the difference – it’s such a collaborative environment, and you learn from your colleagues every day.” – Senior Economist

“I like how I have been given a lot of trust and responsibility by senior people within my team. Just a month into the role and I was given responsibility in making sure the delivery of the final methodology within my cluster was at a high standard. Being given responsibility in writing some chapters out in the final methodology has enabled me to develop a wider set of skills on the job. I like the blend of self-learning through training courses and on the job training that is provided by Ofwat to help with your development. The work life balance provided by Ofwat is something that I really like as you have the flexibility and balance to work from home or in the office.”


What is the potential at the end of the graduate scheme?

While our goal is for you to have a long, successful career with us, there is no guarantee of a job offer at the end of the programme.  This depends on a mix of factors: the successful completion of each of your rotations on the Graduate Programme, your final gateway assessment, and the roles available within the business at the time. The majority of our past graduates have achieved Associate or Senior Associate positions and we have seen many graduates progress beyond this over time.

The application process

What advice have you got for carrying out a video interview?

Firstly, please do make sure that you have checked that your tech works – You will be asked to do a short tech check on the video interview platform (Shortlister). Make sure you’re in a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed and remember that we are looking for you to be authentic, and yourself, so please do try to relax!

Is the video interview ‘live’ on teams/zoom etc or do we film our answers to questions and upload them?

The video interview is not live. You film your answers to pre-recorded questions within the video interview platform itself, (Shortlister), at a time to suit you, and they will be automatically uploaded once you finish and submit.

For those of us who have completed our interview, when do we hear back?

We will be back in touch with you within 10 days of you completing your video interview (sooner if we can) and will keep you updated at all stages throughout the process.

How can I ensure that I get a place in the assessment centre?

You can definitely give yourself the best opportunity by considering your application carefully and how you can align your knowledge, skills and attributes to the role. We want to discover more about you during the recruitment process, so be yourself, be honest, and demonstrate your motivation and understanding of the sector and the role.

What are the nationality requirements to apply?

You must comply with to apply.

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals from the EU, EEA or Switzerland with settled or pre-settled status or who apply for either status by the deadline of the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service
  • relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service
  • certain family members of the relevant EU, EEA, Swiss or Turkish nationals

Are activities such as volunteering/sport outside of the workplace seen as valuable to the company?

We are looking for graduates with a strong academic background in the right subject area for the programme you’re applying for, but if you would like to use examples outside of the workplace, such as volunteering or sport examples in your application then please do as they can help demonstrate Ofwat’s Framework for Success attributes.

I still have questions – can I speak to someone?

Of course, you can speak to our recruitment team on 0121 713 6951 or email [email protected]