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Data Scientist – Predictive Analytics

Closing date

Duties and Qualifications

Data Scientist
Organizational Setting and Work Relationships

The UNHCR Data Transformation Strategy 2020-2025 envisions that by 2025 UNHCR becomes a trusted leader on data and information related to refugees and other persons of concern (POC), thereby enabling actions to protect and to empower them. The Strategy stipulates investing in four complementary priority areas: data management and governance; information systems; capacities and skill development; and culture for evidence-informed decision-making. The strategy envisages data and information management functions in UNHCR are carried out in a complementary and inter-linked manner between Headquarters Divisions and Services, Regional Bureaux, country operations and key external partners, including persons of concern.

UNHCR statistics are considered a global public good benefitting society as a whole and UNHCR's POC in particular. These statistics provide valuable information for a variety of stakeholders ranging from governments, donors, partners, international agencies to analysts, researchers, public bodies and civil society, among others. They enable increased accountability, transparency and evidence-based policy debate. High quality statistics, analysis and technical advice support UNHCR and its partners to formulate and implement improved policies, programmes and decisions, and to allow their effective monitoring and evaluation.

UNHCR¿s Statistics and Demographics Section is the global reference for the agency¿s public facing displacement statistics, serves as interlocutor with national and international statistical bodies and collaborates closely with the UNHCR-World Bank Joint Data Center on analytical and methodological aspects. The Section defines business requirements, statistical policies and best practices in population data aggregation and triangulation practices in close collaboration with respective Sections in the Global Data Service.

As a member of the Statistics and Demographics Section, the Data Scientist will employ big data and data science techniques to develop a range of solutions benefiting UNHCR¿s POC. S/he will serve as liaison to the UNHCR-World Bank Joint Data Center and support joint efforts such as the expansion of UNHCR¿s Microdata Library and will contribute in the area of predictive analytics. S/he is expected to utilize the Dataport, a centralized repository for curated registration and case management data to the fullest extent to ensure data quality and analytical approaches are in line with international statistical standards. The incumbent will apply statistical modelling techniques to project global forced displacement in the short-, mid- and long-term. The Data Scientist reports to the Senior Data Scientist, within the Global Data Service. S/he will directly supervise staff at the Professional and General Service category.


  • Apply data science techniques to global forced displacement and statelessness situations.
  • Draft concept papers, prepare background analyses, and briefings to build support for the use of data analytics and data science techniques throughout UNHCR, in collaboration with relevant Services and Divisions.
  • Provide consultation and guidance to non-technical audiences and develop and implement guidance on integrating advanced data and analysis in routine decision-making processes.
  • Conduct trainings to improve technical and research skills of headquarters and field staff in the area of data science and/or advanced statistical analysis, in collaboration with the Global Learning and Development Centre.
  • Support UNHCR's Registration and Identity Management and Population Registration and Identity Management Ecosystem (PRIMES) teams to implement related activities and to ensure effective collaboration with the UNHCR-World Bank Joint Data Center.
  • Contribute to research on alternative data sources on global forced displacement and statelessness situations.
  • Together with the relevant technical teams at UNHCR contribute to a strategy for utilization of UNHCR¿s Dataport for UNHCR registration and case management data and support the definition and enhancement of key indicators for reporting and planning purposes.
  • Facilitate open access to anonymized forced displacement data while addressing protection and privacy concerns over microdata managed by UNHCR.
  • Contribute to the monthly refugee estimates project using a combination of data sources, including statistical models to establish high frequency refugee estimates at national, regional and global level. Promote a knowledge sharing and learning culture.
  • Support the development and enhancement of UNHCR data systems interoperability and systematic adoption by providing advice on data science techniques.
  • Support the dialogue across UNHCR in collaboration with the appropriate colleagues for improvement of inter-operability and responsible access to corporate systems (e.g. MSRP, proGres).
  • Contribute to capacity development support efforts across UNHCR related to strengthening data collection and analysis procedures and techniques, as well as quality assurance and clean-up of registration and case management data.
  • Contribute to the delivery of high-profile analytical products, in consultation with the relevant operational teams, including field operations.
  • Represent UNHCR in technical meetings and other events as required i.e.: workshops, conferences, etc.
  • Perform other related duties as required.

Minimum Qualifications

  • Education & Professional Work Experience
  • Years of Experience / Degree Level
  • For P3/NOC - 6 years relevant experience with Undergraduate degree; or 5 years relevant experience with Graduate degree; or 4 years relevant experience with Doctorate degree
  • Field(s) of Education
  • Applied Mathematics, Statistics, Economics, Computer Science,
  • Public Policy, Demography, Geography,
  • Engineering or other relevant field with a focus on data science.
  • (Field(s) of Education marked with an asterisk are essential)
  • Certificates and/or Licenses
  • UNHCR ODM Module 7 Registration
  • HCR Operational Data Management Learning Programme
  • Information Management Evaluation Training
  • (Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk
  • Certificates and/or Licenses
  • UNHCR ODM Module 7 Registration
  • HCR Operational Data Management Learning Programme
  • Information Management Evaluation Training
  • (Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk
  • Certificates and/or Licenses
  • UNHCR ODM Module 7 Registration
  • HCR Operational Data Management Learning Programme
  • Information Management Evaluation Training
  • (Certificates and Licenses marked with an asterisk are essential)

Relevant Job Experience

  • Strong quantitative background; experience in data collection, management, cleaning, processing, and applied analysis using one or more of these statistical software or programming languages (Python, Stata, SAS, R, SPSS, MATLAB, Tableau, PowerBI).
  • Strategic sense and demonstrated experience in ensuring the operational relevance of analytical and/or research work.
  • Solid understanding of forced displacement-related issues.
  • Drive, proven sense of initiative, results orientation, flexibility, as well as effective teamwork skills.
  • Experience in a branch of computational informatics (development, health, bio-, geo-, etc.) using machine learning.
  • Experience working with Big Data, social network data, and/or geospatial data/satellite imagery.
  • Experience writing technical reports.
  • Experience presenting work to both technical and non-technical audiences.
  • Willingness to experiment in data innovation and big data and push the boundaries in applying technical skills for development and humanitarian action.
  • Ability to work flexibly, creatively and to multitask as the need arises.
  • A high degree of self-motivation, positive attitude and drive.


  • Experience in process re-engineering (process redesign, process transformation, or change management). Experience with data sharing, data management, and data analysis.
  • Experience with UNHCR¿s corporate applications and operational data.
  • Demonstrated understanding of civil registration and other national population registration systems. Knowledge of UNHCR and interagency policies, standards, programmes and operations.

Language Requirements**
For International Professional and Field Service jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English.
For National Professional jobs: Knowledge of English and UN working language of the duty station if not English and local language.
For General Service jobs: Knowledge of English and/or UN working language of the duty station if not English.

How to Apply

Interested candidates are requested to submit an online application on the UNHCR Career Page at by clicking on the 'Vacancies' tab.

Closing Date: Wednesday 8 April 2020 (midnight Geneva time).

The UNHCR workforce consists of many diverse nationalities, cultures, languages and opinions. UNHCR seeks to sustain and strengthen this diversity to ensure equal opportunities as well as an inclusive working environment for its entire workforce. Applications are encouraged from all qualified candidates without distinction on grounds of race, colour, sex, national origin, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity.** **

Please note that UNHCR does not charge a fee at any stage of its recruitment process (application, interview, meeting, travelling, processing, training or any other fees).