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Developing people and knowledge

Developing people and knowledge means building the capability of our workforce, as well as the capability of our national and international partners.

Build capability within statistics New Zealand

Building analytical and organisational capability

As the leader of the Official Statistics System we need strong statistical capability and the ability to work effectively with others across the system. We need to continue to develop exceptional leaders, intelligent communicators, influential connectors, and expert professionals. To this end, we are developing a People Strategy, which details a five-year programme of key initiatives. This strategy will focus on the leadership, capability and culture required to achieve our objectives.

During 2007/08 we rolled out our capability framework to staff. Using the Lominger tool, as recommended by the State Services Commission, critical standard capabilities have been identified for each of our subject matter and management roles. We also rolled out a statistical core capability framework that aims to build our analytical capability. This framework consists of three levels of statistical skills and knowledge. All Statistics New Zealand staff are now being encouraged to achieve the first level. The second and third levels will be incorporated into many staff performance agreements in 2008/09.

Case study

One of the initiatives of our senior research statisticians has been the development of a series of workshops to increase the analytical capability of our statistical analysts.
Workshops held in 2007/08 included:

  • determining research questions and focusing of projects
  • how to analyse and present information.

 

Following their introduction in 2006/07, we now have 11 senior research statisticians working across our statistical subject matter areas. Our senior research statisticians provide significant intellectual leadership in their specialist field of work, address issues of significant complexity and uncertainty, constructively promote debate, and challenge ideas and processes.

Our Best Practice Field Collections project that commenced in 2007 aims to ensure Statistics New Zealand has a highly skilled and professional field workforce to manage our increasing workload. Field interviewers provide a vital service to the organisation, and are the human face of the department to all those selected to participate in our household surveys. The project is being implemented as a series of eight key initiatives, with a number of these initiatives having been completed during the past year. These include a new Performance Management System for Field Collections, the development of new quality assurance processes, and a standardised recruitment process for field staff. During 2008/09 we will be delivering on the remaining initiatives, including e-learning capability and other technological assistance for field interviewers. The project also examines how we should position ourselves in the future in terms of field collectors’ terms and conditions of employment.

Building a knowledge-sharing culture

We facilitate knowledge-sharing through staff seminars and communities of practice. In 2007/08, there were approximately 120 knowledge-sharing seminars held. Topics included project management, sustainable development, respondent load, national accounts, our software development life cycle and a regular series of statistical methods seminars. These seminars generally achieve a high number of attendees.

During 2007/08 we introduced SmartBoards to all of our meeting rooms, to allow multiple groups across sites to work together on one document in real time. We also introduced Bridg-it, which allows any number of users to join a meeting from any computer. This technology encourages staff interaction across our three offices and aims to improve the efficiency of groups working on a common output.

Employment matters

During 2007/08, Statistics New Zealand and the Public Service Association (PSA) undertook negotiations for the Statistics New Zealand Collective Employment Agreement. An impasse was reached in negotiations and PSA members commenced industrial action in October 2007. This industrial action led to the delay of one statistical release. Negotiations resumed in November 2007 and the Collective Employment Agreement was ratified in April 2008.

Statistics New Zealand has an active equal employment opportunity (EEO) plan, and is a member of the Employers Group of the Equal Employment Opportunities Trust. During 2007/08, Statistics New Zealand and the PSA undertook a Pay and Employment Equity Review (PEER) focusing on gender equity against three indicators: rewards, participation, and fair treatment. Overall, the findings were positive. Statistics New Zealand’s gender pay gap is closing over time, women are well-represented in management roles and at most levels of the department, and family needs and work/life balance rated highly in an internal survey that was undertaken as part of the PEER project.

Our EEO policy states that we will not tolerate sexual harassment, or discrimination on the grounds of gender, age, race or national origin, sexual orientation, marital or family status, or disability. In early 2008, we revised the Statistics New Zealand's Code of Conduct to fit with and promote our wider set of values and behaviours expected of all staff.

We recognise and value diversity in our workforce, and support our staff in learning both te reo Mäori and New Zealand Sign Language. During 2007/08 we had 12 employees of different ethnicities successfully complete the Te Ara Reo Mäori (year 2) course, and another six employees completed the Introduction to New Zealand Sign Language (level 2) course.

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Build capability across the Official Statistics System

Building statistical capability

Building capability across the Official Statistics System is vital to achieving high standards of production and use of official statistics. In 2006, the National Certificate of Public Sector Services (Official Statistics) was ratified and placed on the Qualifications Framework. Thirteen candidates from across the public sector signed up for the pilot, run in July 2007, and a further 17 began the certificate programme in April 2008.

During 2007/08 we held 12 Official Statistics System seminars (exceeding the target of 10), attended by approximately 350 state sector employees and academics. Topics covered included longitudinal data development in Statistics New Zealand, establishing a system of tourism enterprise and sector performance benchmarks, small area estimation methods, and what ethnic diversity means for public policy. For all seminars, feedback from attendees has been positive.

During 2007/08, in conjunction with the Adjunct Professorship in the School of Government at Victoria University of Wellington, the Network of Academics in Official Statistics met and agreed a terms of reference. This network includes statistics departments from six New Zealand universities. The group aims to look at the needs of the state sector and the universities, and how they may work together in the future.

Working with researchers to increase the value of official statistics

The Official Statistics Research Programme (OS Research) is now in its fourth year, and to date 32 research projects have been funded. The research programme commissions and funds research by government departments, academics, or private researchers, on the usefulness, reliability, coverage and availability of the statistics produced in the Official Statistics System.

OS Research funded six projects during 2007/08:

  • confidentialising microdata
  • generating synthetic data
  • unbiased estimation of linked data analysis
  • sampling for subpopulations in household surveys with application to Mäori and Pacific sampling
  • specifications for a geospatial land use classification for New Zealand
  • who we are: the conceptualisation and expression of ethnicity.

We also continued the Overseas Visitors Programme (OVP) jointly with the New Zealand Statistical Association. The purpose of the OVP is to bring an eminent official statistician to New Zealand to share their statistical expertise and knowledge. During 2007/08 Dr Stephen Fienberg, professor from Carnegie-Mellon University in the United States, came to New Zealand and presented workshops on analysing statistical disclosure and confidentiality risks in official statistics. Professor Raymond Chambers, from the University of Wollongong in Australia, was also in New Zealand during 2007/08, and presented a series of seminars at Statistics New Zealand and at a number of universities.

Working with schools to promote the use of statistics

Statistics New Zealand works with New Zealand schools to promote and encourage the use of statistics. Projects and initiatives in 2007/08 included:

  • SURF for Schools, which is a synthetic unit-record file (SURF) based on Statistics New Zealand data from the Household Savings Survey
  • the Schools Corner website, which received 13,594 hits over 2007/08
  • our primary and secondary school StatZing! newsletters for teachers, which include statistical resources and exercises
  • upon request, hosting school visits and providing students with the opportunity to see the real-world application of mathematics they are learning in school
  • 2007 CensusAtSchool, in conjunction with the Ministry of Education, was the third successfully run CensusAtSchool survey in New Zealand, with more than 25,000 students from over 500 schools taking part.

Sharing specialised knowledge with international statistical agencies

International relationships are essential to maximising international participation and productive working relationships. We work closely with the Australian Bureau of Statistics and other national statistical offices, as well as international and regional organisations whose mandates include statistical development. International participation allows Statistics New Zealand to stay abreast of developments in statistical methods and
technology to ensure the Official Statistics System is producing the right statistics at the right level of quality.

Our focus during 2007/08 has been working with our partners in the Pacific. New Zealand’s overseas aid outcomes for the Pacific region aim to “reduce poverty and hardship in the Pacific”. We contribute by strengthening relationships with Pacific countries and working to improve statistical capability in the Pacific region. In April 2008 a new Strategy for Building Statistical Capability in Pacific Island Countries and Territories was signed. This strategy aligns with the NZAID Pacific Strategy 2006–2010, and we hold regular meetings with NZAID to ensure our work programmes are coordinated.

During May 2008 we held a forum for Pacific statisticians and planners from Niue, Tokelau and the Cook Islands. The collective goal of the forum was a commitment toward a strong international statistical system that can turn information into knowledge and provide evidence for decision makers. The forum provided participants with a unique and valuable opportunity to learn and share knowledge about the operation of Statistics New Zealand and the New Zealand statistical system.

Statistics New Zealand continues to be active in the international statistical community through information sharing and participation in conferences, working groups and best practice development.

Case study

The Korea National Statistical Office and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development invited and provided funding for Statistics New Zealand to participate in the International Seminar on the Use of Administrative Data. The seminar allowed experts from national statistics offices to compare strategies to continually improve quality while reducing respondent load and improving cost-efficiencies, through expanding the uses of administrative data. New Zealand’s use of administrative data is advanced and we are among the first in the world to create a database such as the prototype Longitudinal Business Database.

 

Measuring our performance

Our statements of success for this priority are:

  • Statistics New Zealand is considered a desirable place to work by current, past and potential employees
    statistical training is available to more people
  • the number of people participating in official statistics seminars, both within and outside Statistics New Zealand, increases.

We measure our success in achieving these outcomes through the performance measures outlined in table 8.

Table 8

Progress towards developing people.

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