Statisticians make sense of the world around them

Annette Willemse -- Thu, 05/21/2015 - 11:36

Statisticians make sense of the world around them

In January 2009 Prof Hal Varian, an academic scholar of Information Sciences, Business, and Economics and also at that time, Google’s Chief Economist, predicted polo ralph lauren uk that statisticians will play an increasingly important role in the future. In fact, he was quoted as saying: “I keep saying the sexy job in the next twenty years will be statisticians.

The ability to take date – to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it – that’s going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades. 

The complimentary scarce factor is the ability to understand data (which is essentially unrestricted and abundant) and extract value from it.” Statistics is one of the subject fields ralph lauren uk sale within the School of Information Technology on the Vaal Triangle Campus of the North-West University and resides within the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology.

According to Mr Piet Ntema, Subject Chair of Statistics, the world is becoming more data-focused and therefore prospective students should not overlook the value of a career within the field of statistics and mathematics. “Job opportunities in statistics are expected to increase by 4.4 million jobs worldwide in the years ahead,” says Ntema whilst referring to a research report that was published on the website

Mr Piet Ntema, Subject Chair: Statistics Various career opportunities await students with a degree in statistics

What does a statistician do?

Statistics is the study of the collection, organisation, analysis, interpretation and presentation of data. This includes planning the sampling method, as well as designing the survey or experiment.  In short: a statistician makes sense of data.

Wide variety of applications

Many industries depend on statisticians to interpret women ralph lauren olympics data and therefore statisticians must be able to communicate to specialists of various fields. Examples of such applications within the world of work include:

  • Biostatistics – test whether a certain treatment is effective in treating a disease.
  • Finance, banking and insurance – determine a model to predict a prospective client’s creditworthiness.
  • Agriculture – analyse data from agricultural experiments to increase crop yields.
  • Market Research – analyse consumer demand for products and services.
  • Official statistics – estimate the unemployment rate of a country.
  • Safety – estimating the safety of nuclear power plants.
  • Research – any research where data is involved, needs to be analysed statistically.

“Take for example a psychologist who wants to determine whether his new therapy intervention is efficient to treat people suffering from depression. The psychologist will have to analyse his data statistically to be able to make informed deductions.” According to Ntema, many people – researchers included, are often intimidated by statistics and therefore the demand for Statistical Consultants are also increasing.  In terms of possible employers, the list is endless. Examples include Statistics South Africa, Banks and Financial Service Providers, Human Sciences Research Council, Medical Research Council, market research companies, manufacturing companies and institutions of higher learning.

Statistics at the NWU Vaal

The following degree programmes relate to the field of statistics: BSc BMI (Business, Mathematics and Informatics), BSc with Statistics and Computer Sciences as majors, BSc Qualitative Risk Management, BSc Financial Mathematics and BSc in Data Mining and Business Analytics.

Interesting projects that have been undertaken by third year students within the statistics subject group include:  

  • What is the probability that students will vote for the EFF party during the next election?
  • How satisfied are students with the services rendered by the computer labs on the Campus?
  • How much will people be willing to pay for a new energy drink?
  • What is the main cause of death among South Africans?


If you are forward thinking, IT-savvy, interested in finding practical solutions to problems in the society and the world we live in and you enjoy working with numbers and people, statistics could be the career for you.  For more information, please send an e-mail to Mr Piet Ntema at

Geexpo 2015

During the annual Geexpo event – to be hosted on 17 October 2015, Statistics will also feature. Learners from Grade 9 are invited to take part in several mathematics and information sciences related activities, such as: a Statistical Contest, a PAT Competition, a Mathematics Olympiad, a Robotics Challenge and interactive presentations by the Serious Games Institute of South Africa (SGI-SA). The latter includes mobile technologies as well as the App Factory.

Schools are invited to register as many learners for Geexpo 2015 as they see fit. For more information please send an e-mail

* Geexpo is an initiative by the School of Information Technology within the Faculty of Economic Sciences and Information Technology.