Government seeks to boost its data analytics skills

New strategy to help increase public sector skills base

The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet (DPMC) has launched a strategy that seeks to boost the data analytics capabilities of the public service. The strategy is based on a recommendation in the Public Sector Data Management Report, which was released in late 2015.

“A whole-of-government strategy is needed to harness and develop talent and boost the capability of the nation to grow the digital economy,” the PSDMR report stated. “The strategy should encourage a discovery mindset to enable better problem analysis, development of policy solutions, improved service delivery and public sector efficiency.”

The Australian Public Service Data Skills and Capability Framework, released earlier this month, has four key pillars.

The first is a competitive ‘data fellowship’ program that will see up to 10 APS employees undertake three-month placements with Data61 or private sector organisations to work on data-related problems. Participants will become part of an alumni network.

The framework also envisages APS employees taking part in a range specialist analytics courses offered by universities, supported by their agency or department.

Another pillar is training partnerships with a number of organisations. Currently partner organisations are the Open Data Institute Queensland, the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC), and the Data to Decisions Cooperative Research Centre (D2D CRC).

“These partner organisations have been selected due to their relevant technical expertise and knowledge to deliver training that has practical and real-world application to the APS,” the framework document states.

The other component of the framework is a data literacy program to boost the skills of non-specialist APS employees. The program’s development is a product of collaboration between the Australian Bureau of Statistics, the Australian Public Service Commission, the Australian Taxation Office and DPMC.

“It is important – both in government and in non-government sectors – that we remain committed to improving the data skills and capability of our workforce. Data skills are critical for developing evidence-based policy, which is so important in improving the lives of Australians,” assistant minister for digital transformation, Angus Taylor, said in a statement.

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