Employers place a strong emphasis on essential skills in the workplace. Essential skills are used in nearly every occupation, and are seen as ¿building blocks¿ because people build on them to learn all other skills.
Each profile contains a list of example tasks that illustrate how each of the 9 essential skill is generally performed by the majority of workers in an occupation. The estimated complexity levels for each task, between 1 (basic) and 5 (advanced), may vary based on the requirements of the workplace.
Mathematicians and statisticians research mathematical or statistical theories, and develop and apply mathematical or statistical techniques, for solving problems in such fields as science, engineering, business and social science. Actuaries apply mathematics, statistics, probability and risk theory to assess potential financial impacts of future events. Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries are employed by universities, governments, bank and trust companies, insurance companies, pension benefit consulting firms, professional associations and science and engineering consulting firms.
- Realize that they will miss project deadlines because of missing, inadequate and inaccurate data. They meet project managers and clients to review project plans and negotiate new deadlines. (2)
- Are unable to source software, equipment and personnel needed for ongoing work. For example, they may be unable to find Canadian sources for specialized software. They search the Internet and find several foreign manufacturers able to supply the software. They meet with their purchasing departments to discuss software functions, identify appropriate suppliers and arrange for the fastest possible delivery methods. (3)
- Receive complaints from managers and clients who are unsatisfied with work they have delivered. They review their work, change it in light of the comments and suggestions received and resubmit it for approval. They may have to change the orientation of their work to satisfy managers and clients. For example, statisticians may receive complaints about survey questionnaires which they have written. Actuaries may receive complaints about life, health and property insurance policies, and pension and superannuation plans which they have designed. (4)
- May select tasks to assign to co-op students, junior mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries. They consider individual academic backgrounds, skills, experiences, strengths, weaknesses and availabilities. (2)
- Decide to participate in specific projects which involve the research, development and application of mathematical theories and techniques to solve scientific, engineering, financial, management and socioeconomic development problems. They review requests for proposals, identify project tasks and requirements and bid on projects for which they have the necessary skills and resources. Once projects are started, they may incur significant losses of money and credibility if they decide to withdraw their participation. (3)
- Select mathematical, statistical and actuarial analysis techniques and data collection methods for their projects. They have to consider the advantages, disadvantages, costs and feasibility of each available option. For example, a statistician may select a stratified sample to survey a population. An operations researcher may select an optimization algorithm to prepare train schedules and routes and reduce transit times. An actuary may select a stochastic model to analyse stock markets and interest rates and to recommend portfolio structures. (4)
Job Task Planning and Organizing
- Judge the suitability of various table and graph types to present research findings and operational data for projects. They consider the strengths and limitations of each table and graph type for displaying particular data, messages they want to emphasize and level of technical expertise of their audiences. (2)
- Assess the accuracy, reasonableness and completeness of data. They conduct logic checks and use their own experience to identify potential errors. For example, a demographer may assess the accuracy, reasonableness and completeness of survey data on labour force characteristics using a variety of mathematical techniques and common sense assumptions. (3)
- May evaluate the performance of junior mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries on their project teams. As part of the assessments, they determine the extent to which juniors have achieved their various project tasks and adhered to plans, schedules and timelines. Their conclusions may lead to recommendations for further training and reassignments of the workers they supervise. (3)
- Evaluate the completeness and clarity of policies, procedures and guidelines which they have written. They ensure that crucial information has not been omitted and that wording is not open to interpretation. For example, an actuary may evaluate the completeness and clarity of group benefit and retirement benefit plans and life, property and health insurance policies. (3)
- May assess the quality and readiness of articles for publication in academic journals. For example, an operations researcher may be asked to review a colleague's article on an algorithm for multiple criteria optimization. The researcher evaluates the article using criteria such as the soundness of the mathematical approach, the consistency of explanations, the appropriateness of conclusions reached and the clarity of the text. (4)
Own Job Planning and Organizing
Most mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries work in dynamic environments with conflicting demands on their time. They often work in teams, so they must integrate their own tasks and work schedules with those of many co-workers and colleagues. Their ability to work on several projects at the same time and manage priorities is critical to their jobs. Delays in getting accurate data, pressures from managers and clients and other unexpected events force them to frequently reorganize job tasks. (3)
Planning and Organizing for Others
Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries contribute to long-term and strategic planning for their organizations. They may be responsible for assigning job tasks and creating work schedules for co-op students and junior mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries. (3)
Significant Use of Memory
- Remember multiple security codes to access computers and networks. Large organizations force password changes at regular intervals and system operators may prohibit the ones that depend on common mnemonic devices.
- Remember the names, specialization areas, interests and concerns of co-workers, colleagues and clients to save time, facilitate communication, develop positive relationships and build trust.
- Find information about past projects by searching reports, files and archives and talking to co-workers. For example, an actuary may search archived files to find information about a pension plan developed for a client. (2)
- May find information to support public and private sector decision making and policy development processes by reviewing literature and conducting surveys. They may design statistical samples, write questionnaires, supervise survey implementation, collect data and analyse results to find the information needed by decision makers and policy developers. (3)
- Find information about mathematical theories and techniques used to solve specific scientific, engineering, financial, management and socioeconomic development problems by conducting extensive literature searches. They analyze and integrate information from a wide range of sources to facilitate their own mathematical research and applications. (4)
Other Essential Skills:
Working with Others
Mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries coordinate and integrate job tasks with project teams comprising managers, coworkers and colleagues. They work closely with managers to define project priorities, methodologies and schedules and to monitor progress. They may supervise and train co-op students and junior mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries assisting them with project tasks. (3)
Continuous learning is an integral part of the job of mathematicians, statisticians and actuaries. They are expected to further their knowledge of mathematical, statistical and actuarial theories and techniques and keep abreast of legislative changes, technological advances and other events affecting their practices. On a day-to-day basis, they acquire new learning through self-study and experimentation, speaking with co-workers and colleagues, browsing the Internet and reading textbooks, e-magazines, e-bulletins, government legislation and academic journals. They also attend conferences, seminars, symposia, workshops and courses on topics relevant to their specialization. They may be required by their employers to develop their own learning plans. (4)