By Jackie Byard, UK Office for National Statistics
Takwimu, tilasto, ystadegau, istatistika… It’s all Greek to me! But for the next generation of numerate, data-savvy young people, statistics could be their mother tongue.
Nurturing statistics as a profession, especially among young people, is one of the aims of the 2013 International Year of Statistics, and one that the United Kingdom Office for National Statistics (ONS) is already supporting with its focus on engaging the young citizen. Across the office there are ambassadors working to make statistics more accessible to young people (ages 7 to 23), to raise the profile of statistics as an essential decision-making tool, and to promote the value of a future career in statistics.
This activity includes visits to local schools to highlight the range of statistics ONS produces and to show how they relate to almost all aspects of life—from the RPI shopping basket and personal inflation calculator to their future employment prospects. We invite students from local schools to come see what the office has to offer as a future employer, and we run student internships to give under-graduates hands-on experience of working on statistical programmes. There’s collaboration with the Welsh Government on a National Numeracy Programme aimed at equipping 5- to 14-year-olds with mathematical skills and reasoning to apply to their real-world problems.
And taking our statistics to a wider audience, we are working with national media to produce learning resources – such as the Guardian’s teacher blog on Census data – and partnering with educational publishers to get our data into the classrooms of schools, colleges and universities, in formats students can easily use and understand.
Hopefully by catching young people early, we can keep them hooked on statistics for life—and nurture a new generation of statisticians.
Byard is a member of the ONS Stakeholder Management and Communication Division.