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Vacancy announcement - datalab assistant

Closing date is 26 April 2019. 23:59 UTC+3

Vacancy announcement - Datalab Assistant

About UN University

For the past four decades, UNU has been a go-to think tank for impartial research on the pressing global problems of human survival, conflict prevention, development, and welfare. With more than 400 researchers in 13 countries, UNU’s work spans the full breadth of the 17 SDGs, generating policy-relevant knowledge to effect positive global change. UNU maintains more than 200 collaborations with UN agencies and leading universities and research institutions across the globe. For more information please visit www.unu.edu.

United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER)

UNU-WIDER is a leading international development economics think tank. The Institute provides economic analysis and policy advice with the aim of promoting sustainable and equitable development for all. The Institute began operations in 1985 in Helsinki, Finland, as the first research centre of the United Nations University. Today it is a unique blend of think tank, research institute, and UN agency — providing a range of services from policy advice to governments, as well as original research that is ‘open access’. More information on UNU-WIDER’s current work programme, is available at: www.wider.unu.edu.

United Nations University World Institute for Development Economics Research (UNU-WIDER) is implementing together with its partners over the period 2017–20 a research programme titled Southern Africa – Toward Inclusive Economic Development (SA-TIED), with the aim of enhancing economic research, capacity-building, and policy dialogue. 

The recent availability of tax administrative, microdata on enterprises and jobs and other policy-related data in South Africa provides a valuable resource for policy-relevant academic research. This allows for a deeper understanding of the functioning of the private sector, public sector, the labour market, and public revenue mobilization. The goal is to create well-documented longitudinal datasets with key variables that can be augmented with research specific variables. 

To support the data work and research efforts under the SA-TIED project, a new data lab facility at the National Treasury of South Africa in Pretoria has been set up and started operations in January 2019. The advertised position is based at the National Treasury in Pretoria, South Africa.


Under the supervision of UNU-WIDER research personnel based at the National Treasury in Pretoria, South Africa, the Data Lab Assistant will perform the following duties:

1. Data Lab management (40 per cent)

  • Manage the administrative and technical support functions relating to the Data Lab
  • Perform administrative functions to ensure the proper functioning of the Data Lab, these include arranging for researcher access with security, collection of researchers at security, setting up researchers in the Data Lab, facilitate the signing off on confidential reports
  • Communicate, maintain and develop client relationships
  • Manage supplier relationships
  • Manage operational and administrative functions to ensure projects are delivered efficiently and timeously
  • Oversee bookings of the Data Lab using the online booking system.
  • Ensure that equipment is functioning at all times and that the airflow is maintained optimally.

2. Administrative support (20 per cent)

  • Assist in planning and coordination of the SA-TIED Seminar Series in Pretoria
  • Assist in planning, coordination, and delivery of SA-TIED events in South Africa
  • Liaise and follow up with service providers for events
  • Assist UNU-WIDER personnel located at NT with admin-related work
  • Perform other administrative duties as requested by the Supervisor.

3. Research assistance (40 per cent)

  • Retrieve, clean, and process microdata in SQL and Stata
  • Maintain the microdata and resolve errors in the extraction and data cleaning process
  • Assist in drafting, reviewing and revising documentation related to the microdata
  • Liaise with South Africa Revenue Services (SARS) on technical data
  • Collect and compile economic time series/panel data
  • Process and transform macrodata using econometric software such as Eviews or Stata
  • Prepare charts and graphs of time series data
  • Perform basic statistical and econometric analysis on macrodata, such as unit root tests, structural break tests and correlation analysis using Eviews and/or Stata.
  • Perform other research tasks as assigned by the Supervisor.

Required qualifications and experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in economics, statistics, geoinformatics, data science or equivalent with at least two (2) years of relevant work experience preferably in an international organization. Master’s degree in economics, statistics, geoinformatics, data science or equivalent is an advantage.
  • Excellent skills in statistical software (STATA and EVIEWS) and SQL.
  • Knowledge of R and ArcGIS is an advantage.
  • Excellent analytical and drafting skills.
  • Fluent in oral and written English.
  • Knowledge about private sector development, productivity growth, and empirical economics is an asset.
  • Excellent team player with strong, well-developed interpersonal skills and ability to work in a multi-cultural, multi-ethnic environment with sensitivity and respect for diversity.
  • Strong ability to establish priorities, multi-task and work within tight timelines.
  • Ability to work in under minimal supervision and with high level of resilience.


Monthly remuneration of ZAR26,303 per month of full-time work to be paid at the end of each month for the duration of the agreement against certification of satisfactory performance by the supervisor.

This is a locally-recruited post and no relocation allowance applies. The post is limited to persons residing in South Africa, including persons holding a valid residence/work permit. The successful candidate will be employed under a local contract and will not hold international civil service status nor be a ‘staff member’ as defined in the UN Staff Rules and Regulations. 

UNU has its own medical insurance for employees contracted under a Personnel Service Agreement (PSA).

Duration of contract

This is full-time employment on a one (1) year Personnel Service Agreement (PSA) contract with UNU-WIDER, with the possibility for renewal subject to requirements and satisfactory work performance, with the combined duration of appointments not exceeding six (6) years.

Starting date: As soon as possible.

Application procedure

Interested applicants should submit their applications online using this form and must upload the following:

  • a cover letter setting out how their qualifications and experience match the requirements of the position
  • a completed and signed UNU Personal History (P.11) downloadable from UNU website; please avoid using similar forms provided by other United Nations organizations
  • an up-to-date CV
  • a copy of highest educational degree obtained.

The United Nations shall place no restrictions on the eligibility of men and women to participate in any capacity and under conditions of equality in its principal and subsidiary organs (Charter of the United Nations: Chapter 3, article 8).