Be smart, skilled and en vogue


It is un­de­ni­able, we have en­tered into the in­for­ma­tion age, the era of big data and with it has come the dawn of the young, vi­brant and tal­ented mod­ern statis­ti­cian. No mat­ter what you call us – sta­tis­ti­cal sci­en­tists, data sci­en­tists, or an­a­lysts – statis­ti­cians are a di­verse group of peo­ple with one thing in com­mon: we use the science of sta­tis­tics to draw valu­able in­sights from data. In to­day’s data-rich world, the de­mand for this unique brand of math­e­mat­i­cally gifted in­di­vid­u­als con­tin­ues to in­crease and is pro­jected to grow at a faster than av­er­age rate.

In 2009, Hal Var­ian, chief economist at Google, de­clared that: “[t]he sexy job in the next 10 years will be statis­ti­cians. Be­cause now we re­ally do have es­sen­tially free and ubiq­ui­tous [i.e., present, ap­pear­ing, or found ev­ery­where] data. So the com­pli­men­tary factor is the abil­ity to un­der­stand that data and ex­tract value from it.”

Fast-for­ward seven years later and we now know for a fact that the abil­ity to learn from data is one of the most heav­ily de­manded skills among in­dus­try lead­ers and gov­ern­ments.

Sta­tis­tics is the science of learn­ing from data. It in­volves the col­lec­tion, or­gan­i­sa­tion, anal­y­sis, in­ter­pre­ta­tion and pre­sen­ta­tion of data. It lies at the heart of im­por­tant ad­vances in the sciences and de­ci­sion mak­ing in busi­ness, pub­lic pol­icy and sports. Sta­tis­tics may be com­bined with many other dis­ci­plines to make a last­ing and mean­ing­ful im­pact on the world in which we live.


To­day, not only do stu­dents need to learn read­ing, writ­ing and arith­metic; they also need to have the skills to learn from data. Sta­tis­ti­cal lit­er­acy is an es­sen­tial skill that tran­scends bor­ders and dis­ci­plines. A com­pe­tent statis­ti­cian or data an­a­lyst can eas­ily find gain­ful em­ploy­ment in many coun­tries and in a num­ber of dif­fer­ent fields of work.

Al­most ev­ery part of life to­day has been touched by the data rev­o­lu­tion, from weather fore­casts to so­cial in­ter­ac­tion and dat­ing, so­cial me­dia to mar­ket­ing cam­paigns, from busi­ness meet­ings to house­hold elec­tron­ics and ap­pli­ances, and even the ve­hi­cles we drive and our daily work­out. Al­most ev­ery­thing we do to­day pro­duces data. As such, the abil­ity to or­gan­ise, an­a­lyse and iden­tify pat­terns in the moun­tains of data that are be­ing pro­duced at an alarm­ing rate, is a skill that is in­dis­pens­able in the mod­ern world. When used cor­rectly, sta­tis­tics help us to iden­tify trends or pat­terns in the data, it helps us to un­der­stand what hap­pened in the past and is use­ful in help­ing to pre­dict what may hap­pen in the fu­ture.

No longer is the statis­ti­cian con­fined to a mo­not­o­nous, num­ber­crunch­ing, lack­lus­tre ex­pe­ri­ence. No longer is the av­er­age statis­ti­cian a di­shev­elled old man with thick glasses labour­ing tire­lessly, crunch­ing num­bers and stress­ing over mind-bog­gling equa­tions. Sta­tis­ti­cal science now holds a prom­i­nent place in many of the most ex­cit­ing and in­no­va­tive fields. Sta­tis­tics is now young, vi­brant and

In so­cial me­dia, the num­ber of likes, com­ments, re­views, etc. are used to in­form mar­ket re­searchers of the vi­a­bil­ity of im­ple­ment­ing cam­paigns such as events cov­er­age, ad­ver­tise­ments and prod­uct place­ment. In sports, sta­tis­tics and an­a­lyt­ics are be­ing used to in­form the de­ci­sions of coaches in terms of which play­ers are to be added to the team, which play­ers should start, and which play­ers are most ef­fec­tive com­ing off the bench. It is sta­tis­tics that en­ables us to dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween the fastest man alive and the man with the most sub-10 clock­ings. In fi­nance, sta­tis­ti­cal knowl­edge in­forms the de­ci­sion to buy or sell stocks, how long to keep them, and where to in­vest to yield the largest re­turns. Lo­cally, our fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions use the in­for­ma­tion de­rived from data to fore­cast earn­ings, make new in­vest­ments and de­ter­mine risks. In medicine, sta­tis­tics in­forms doc­tors of the most prob­a­ble treat­ment op­tion for suc­cess­ful re­cov­ery. It also helps gov­ern­ments to un­der­stand the spread of dis­eases in or­der to im­ple­ment ap­pro­pri­ate re­sponses, and how best to re­spond in the event of a dis­as­ter.


Sta­tis­tics is es­sen­tial for in­di­vid­u­als, busi­nesses and gov­ern­ments to de­ter­mine the most prob­a­ble op­tion for suc­cess. In­for­ma­tion pro­vides a com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage that the shrewd en­tre­pre­neur and wise pol­i­cy­maker sim­ply can­not ig­nore. Whether or not a coun­try de­vel­ops is sig­nif­i­cantly in­flu­enced by its abil­ity to ob­tain and un­der­stand its eco­nomic, so­cial and en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tions. This de­ter­mi­na­tion is based pri­mar­ily on data pro­duced by en­ti­ties such as its Na­tional Sta­tis­tics Of­fice (NSO). In our case, the NSO is the Sta­tis­ti­cal In­sti­tute of Ja­maica (STATIN). Sta­tis­tics on un­em­ploy­ment and in­fla­tion in­forms fis­cal and mone­tary pol­icy, which helps to de­ter­mine the di­rec­tion the econ­omy takes. In­for­ma­tion on in­ter­na­tional trade and bal­ance of pay­ments speak to the coun­try’s cur­rent ac­count bal­ance and gives in­sight into the amount of for­eign ex­change re­quired for the nor­mal func­tion­ing of the econ­omy. Sta­tis­tics on poverty and pro­duc­tion in­form strate­gies for so­cial pro­tec­tion and eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment. The statis­ti­cian is able to make a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the world around them, by turn­ing data into use­ful in­for­ma­tion.

As data con­tinue to grow, the de­mand for statis­ti­cians and an­a­lysts will con­tinue to in­crease. This will hap­pen as peo­ple move away from mak­ing de­ci­sions on a whim and move to­wards ev­i­dence-based de­ci­sion­mak­ing. Sta­tis­tics is the key to un­lock­ing in­for­ma­tion, will you help to open the door? LEESHA DELATIE-BUDAIR Di­rec­tor, Re­search, De­sign and Eval­u­a­tion

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