“I did a 6-month placement at the ONS working on their scoping out of using administrative-based data sources to draw together information about the population that usually comes from the census. This was a really exciting time to be working with the team as the results from the 2021 census were just being published so it was a prime opportunity to assess how well their admin-based statistics held up.
I was part of the team working on the code for the Statistical Population Dataset (SPD) this was just one part of the admin-based sources, but it drew together data from Health, Education and other sectors. The dataset was huge, so it was great to be able to see Python processes on truly big data. I also worked on using the datasets that went into the SPD to see if we could predict future population trends, this was a very new workstream so it was interesting to be able to work on it at the very outset and set up the work for the ONS to use in the future. Finally, I chose to shadow the Ethnicity Harmonised Standards team as they conducted interviews on perceptions of the ethnicity question on the dataset, this was eye-opening as the logistical and administrative challenges with changing the options were balanced with need and equality in today’s society.
Overall, I had a great time at the ONS and would like to thank the team I worked with as they all made me feel very welcome! I learnt lots for my project moving forward with the rest of my PhD from data management and code reproducibility to the challenges of counting the population in the ‘real-world’.”