Stand Out and Be Counted: Quantitative Skills

‘I keep saying the sexy job in the next ten years will be statisticians… The ability to take data – to be able to understand it, to process it, to extract value from it, to visualize it, to communicate it – is going to be a hugely important skill in the next decades… Because now we really do have essentially free and ubiquitous data.’

Hal Varian, Google’s Chief Economist

It includes contributions from the CEO of Waterstones, the UK’s National Statistician, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Statistics, Director of YouGov and Editor of the Guardian’s DataBlog.

The booklet illustrates the concrete steps which these professionals have taken in order to become confident using highly prized quantitative skills in their chosen careers. You can read about the value of quantitative skills to business, journalism, academia, the public sector, politics and charities in this collection of blog posts below. For the uninitiated, let’s start by clarifying what quantitative skills are and why they matter.

What are Quantitative Skills?
Generating and analysing data requires you to be numerate and statistically savvy. Quantitative skills (QS) involve the ability to handle data and use numerical evidence systematically. QS can include anything from the ability to design surveys or experiments to assess and use quantitative evidence from surveys, digital media, archives and open data.

Why do they matter?
QS underpin effective, evidence-based planning and procedure in the public, private and other sectors, as well as ‘blue skies’ thinking. However there is a worrying QS deficit in the UK, with 55% of employers reporting widespread QS weaknesses amongst their employees.

Where can QS take me?
Broad numerical skills are highly prized in practically every sector, as these blog posts will attest. QS are not just transferable between different work places, they translate well overseas too. Global management consulting firm McKinsey has estimated that by 2018 there will be a shortage of 15 – 20,000 data scientists and up to 1.5m data savvy managers and professionals in the US alone.

What is the British Academy doing for QS?

In 2011, the British Academy launched a four-year programme to deepen awareness and demonstrate the importance of QS in the humanities and social sciences. The Academy believes that statistical literacy and numeracy are vital to a functioning modern democracy, add value to academic endeavour and empower individuals in all walks of life.

Using Quantitative Skills in Business

Using Quantitative Skills in Research and Academia

Using Quantitative Skills in the Third Sector

Using Quantitative Skills in Journalism

More to come in the following weeks!


Five minutes with Andrew Herbert: former Chairman of Microsoft Research
Bridging Theory with Practice:Qualitative Research to Aid Fire & Rescue
Gathering Data for Policy Makers, Business and the Public
Property Crime, Violence and Recession

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British Academy

The British Academy is the UK’s national body which champions and supports the humanities and social sciences. It is an independent, self-governing fellowship of scholars, elected for their distinction in research and publication. Our purpose is to inspire, recognise and support excellence in the humanities and social sciences, throughout the UK and internationally, and to champion their role and value.

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Quantitative skills can create a large impact within social sciences but you do need to execute some caution. There are aspects of quantitative research that you need to be careful, such as the timing of the research you’re conducting or the volume of the study, which can affect your findings.

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