People working for NSW Government have a tremendous enthusiasm for data and want to learn more about safely and effectively using it in their day-to-day roles.

That’s the key finding from the Department of Finance, Service and Innovation’s (DFSI) recent NSW Government Data Skills Survey.

We conducted the short seven-question survey last year and sent it to government digital.nsw subscribers. We received 1,156 responses.

People want data

We found people in the public sector are embracing digital government and are enthusiastic about using data to improve services and strategies.

We asked: “Would you benefit from learning more about data in your role?”. A massive 94 per cent of respondents reported that they could benefit from learning more about data in their current role.

 The survey also showed a broad professional interest in safe and effective data use across government, with 81 per cent of our respondents confirming that they were non-data professionals. Importantly, survey responses were also received from all NSW Government clusters.

Data skill priorities

To establish data skills priorities, the survey asked: “What data skills and knowledge do you need?” The top five responses were:

  • using data to improve decisions and service delivery
  • finding data to help me in my work
  • creating and using data visualisations
  • understanding data governance rules
  • data privacy and security.

The survey also gave people the opportunity to identify the key data challenges that they face in their role. The top responses were:

  • accessing data
  • using data
  • data quality.

In terms of how people want to learn, the clear preferences were for e-learning modules, online tools and resources, and face-to-face learning.

The final question in the survey asked people if they had any additional comments or suggestions. We received more than 200 fantastic responses, which added to our fantastic evidence base that we received from the survey for setting data skills priorities and directions.  

The survey results also highlighted the interdependencies between data governance, leadership support, business needs, technology, and data skills and maturity.

The survey feedback has also shown us that to genuinely increase data skills and help drive the transformation of government services for the 21st century, DFSI’s data skills initiatives need to also focus on broad data policy, practice and platform issues, as well as specific skills.

Extensive information about the survey and its findings are contained in the consultation draft of the Data Skills Survey Report, which includes a range of recommendations for action. Current recommendations include for DFSI to:

  • build a data practice team to help strengthen data skills in agencies and to help agencies do more with their data.
  • establish a Data Champions Network to help foster data collaboration across government, build data maturity, share resources and celebrate the great work NSW Government is doing with data.
  • continue building the dMarketplace program to expand the policy, practice and platform elements that support data skills and maturity.

We welcome your feedback on the proposed next steps to help us continue building data skills across NSW government. Please tell us what you think at [email protected]