Educating young people on the power of data in decision making

data professionals

Author: Chris Rochester, UK Director of Primary Engineer®

Back in 2010, Google CEO, Eric Schmidt said Every two days, we create as much information as we did from the dawn of civilization up until 2003”.  This was an extraordinary statistical statement then, but following World Statistics Day 2020, we’re highlighting STATWARS® and the importance of enabling young people to investigate and present data and use it to inform decision making.

Data is everywhere, it always has been and with evolving industries and technologies, it is now omnipresent. Young people need to be aware of the power of data in decision making and the role it will play in their future careers as Johan Wibergh, Vodafone Group’s Chief Technology Officer, explains: “Demand for digital skills outstrips the supply of available talent. We need to engage with students about how timely, anonymised data can address issues that matter to them, whether they’re using it to predict floods or creating safe corridors for endangered animals. Also, many young people may not have access to the skills needed to prepare them for the digital economy.”

Dr Susan Scurlock MBE, CEO and Founder of Primary Engineer believes it starts with educating and empowering students from a young age on the use of data in making a difference in the real world.  “STATWARS® has been created to engage school pupils with data and to develop data skills.  Young people need to be able to put resources to work for their own purposes, drawing on them creatively and critically. To support this process, we must engage young people with data that intersects with their lives. This may be understanding financial information, or comprehending real world issues, such as climate change.”

Many organisations, like Vodafone, Network Rail and Facebook recognise the importance of developing these skills early through education and have partnered with Primary Engineer® to fund and support the STATWARS® Competition to develop data skills in primary and secondary aged children at home or in school. The aim of STATWARS® is to embed data into the heart of the educational journey, by linking creativity and enjoyment in developing a deep, sustainable understanding of the value and the use of data in all our lives. In turn, opening doors to careers that incorporate and require data skills.

World Statistics Day

World Statistics Day is coordinated globally by the Statistics Division of the United Nations Department of Economic Affairs. The theme for this year, ‘Connecting the world with data we can trust’ is reflecting on the importance of trust, authoritative data, innovation and the public good in national statistical systems. The  Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres in a letter to heads of state around the world in September 2020 said, “Current, reliable, timely and trusted data are necessary to understand the changing world in which we live.” He also noted, Covid-19 has “elevated the importance of data and statistics”. Every organisation, every individual across the globe is relying on statistical information to define how we all come together and play our part to manage the situation.