Saturday, August 07, 2010

Government may fund degree in statistics to meet staff crunch

The government could soon fund a postgraduate degree in statistics to fill up vacancies in the statistical service, as enough students do not seem to be interested in the profession making economic and social data collation difficult. Those applying for the statistical service must have studied statistics or applied statistics as their main subject at both the graduate and post-graduate level. But with not many students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in statistics, and even fewer studying it at the postgraduate level, the government is finding it difficult to attract enough candidates. "This is one of the proposals by the committee set up to review the recruitment process for the service", said an official from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation – the nodal ministry for the Indian Statistical Service.

If the proposal goes through, the government could make a bachelor’s degree in statistics as the basic educational qualification for the statistical service. Selected candidates could be taught and awarded a master’s degree in statistics during their two-year probation at the National Academy of Statistical Administration (NASA). "In that case, NASA would develop the post graduate course in consultation with other universities and would ensure that the degree is also recognised by a central or state university", the official said, adding that a final decision on the issue is yet to be taken.

"There is a shortage (of officers) as not enough people are numerically literate. Moreover, most of them get snapped up by banks and insurance companies where there is a huge demand", the country’s chief statistician TCA Anant had told ET in an interview earlier. The issue was also highlighted by the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) that is responsible for filling up cadres of central services. It has pointed out that the number of candidates who qualified for interviews for the statistical service were not in proportion to the vacancies during 2003 to 2007. For instance, in 2006, the statistical service had 32 vacancies but only 38 candidates were available for interview. The ministry is also facing a shortage of field investigators with nearly a third of the 3,900-odd posts vacant.

Source: The Economic Times, August 7, 2010

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