Comparable to the industrial revolution, the rapid advances in data and analytics, machine learning and big data are causing dramatic shifts across sectors, including the public service.
With a proposed $1.5 billion in cuts to the public sector over the next four years, delivering outcomes with less resources requires more efficient use of data.
There are government initiatives such as data.gov.au which aims to grow the economy, improve service delivery and policy outcomes through open data, however these projects rely on users seeing value in making their data available for wider public use.
The need for data literacy across all levels of an organisation is now more pronounced than ever. While data was once relegated to siloes, it now touches the majority of roles in any governmental department.
Though there’s a clear financial incentive (analytics professionals earn a median salary of $130,000 compared to the average median salary of $84,000) the public sector is facing a data skills deficit.
The graph below reveals the highest in-demand skills worldwide, as captured by ODI:
Improving data skills and capability was made a core focus of the Australian public sector with a framework published in 2016. eLearning modules were made available to public servants in a self-serve education model. These modules include using data in the APS, undertaking research, using statistics, visualising information, and providing evidence to decision makers.
The modules take between 45 minutes to 1 hour, meaning you could finish the available training in less than 5 hours. This begs the question, are we doing enough to upskill staff with the booming demand for analytics capabilities?
The ODI’s research revealed two thirds of people prefer blended learning, a mix of online and face-to-face methods. Only one-fifth prefer strictly online methods, evidencing the place for in-person learning even in an increasingly digital world.
Research has revealed:
- 92% of agencies are seeking to improve their digital transformation capabilities over the next 3 years
- 57% of employees had not done any training to improve their data literacy
- Over half of all respondents agreed they would benefit from training to improve their data literacy
- Only a quarter of respondents believed their level of data literacy was sufficient for their current job
As the world shifts to a data-centric focus and the public sector begins to embrace data as a strategic asset, opportunities emerge for the use of this information to create value and deliver better outcomes for citizens.
The 7th Advancing APS Data Analytics conference, running in Canberra from 30 – 1 November 2019, brings together public sector professionals with responsibilities for data and analytics, information management, statistics and strategy. Building on critical technical skills and capabilities, the event will showcase the latest approaches and tools to enhance data-driven decision making and a streamlined public service.