The Australian government has announced an initiative aimed at boosting data literacy among its ranks of Australian Public Service (APS) employees, in a bid to ramp up its data skills talent pool.
With the publication of its APS Data Skills and Capability Framework on 1 September, the government has outlined how it plans to close the perceived data skills gap among government employees.
Assistant minister for Cities and Digital Transformation, Angus Taylor, said that upskilling public workers would result in smarter policy development, better service delivery, and more efficient program management.
“In light of the increasing volume and value of data, Australia needs to be supported by a workforce that has the skills and the capability to analyse and extract the most value out of the data,” said Taylor in the foreword of the framework document.
“Data skills and capability are as critically important for the Australian Public Service (APS) as anywhere else," he said. "Data literacy across the APS will have a critical role in supporting evidence-based decision making, developing more efficient government policy, and delivering services that meet the needs of people across Australia.
“Skills and knowledge in publishing, linking and sharing public data will help to make government services more citizen-focused,” he said.
The APS Data Skills and Capability Framework is comprised of four components: a data fellowship program; university courses; the APS data literacy program; and data training partnerships.
These partnerships will see APS employees gain access to in-house data training within external organisations. Current partner organisations for the program include Open Data Institute Queensland, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, and the Data to Decision Cooperative Research Centre.
Meanwhile, the data fellowship is a competitive program to provide advanced data training to high-performing data specialists within the APS, with selected candidates undertaking three-month placements within the CSIRO’s research unit, Data61.
The new Framework comes as the government moves to make more out of public data. Under the government’s data initiatives, more than 9,600 datasets have been released on the data.gov.au site.
The government’s Public Data Policy Statement, published in late 2015, requires agencies make their data open by default.
“Publishing appropriately anonymised government data will stimulate innovation and enable economic outcomes,” the Statement said.