On 17 May, the Institute of Public Administration Australia (IPAA) ACT will be hosting the inaugural APS Data Awards, in partnership with the Graduate Data Network (GDN), the Office of the National Data Commissioner (ONDC), the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), and APS Data Profession. Before the event kicks off, we hear from Jenet Connell, Deputy Australian Statistician and Chief Operating Officer, Australian Bureau of Statistics, about the idea behind the awards, the growing value of the data profession, and how managers can help their teams improve their data skills.
We wanted to create an event that celebrates achievements across the data landscape, and highlight innovative and resourceful solutions implemented across the APS which use data to make a difference to the Australian community.
The early impetus for the Data Awards came in 2022 from the ONDC, for an inaugural event to be held in 2023. By request from the ONDC, the Data Profession team at the ABS commenced leading and coordinating the Data Awards program in late 2022 with plans to hold the awards in the evening following the GDN Data Forum. IPAA ACT previously assisted with the delivery of the Graduate Data Forum in 2022, and are now partnering with us to deliver the awards.
The government is increasing its focus on evaluation of programs – clearly, this evaluation will depend on data, and data skills form the basis of good policy development and evaluation. There’s a lot of respect for skills of data professionals, and recognition of the importance of their work is now contributing to a great data culture.
Acknowledging the importance of data, for example through award programs such as the APS Data Awards, and the value of the skills of data professionals will encourage people to see this as a credible and rewarding career pathway. This is critical now that the Data Availability and Transparency Act 2022 and the intergovernmental agreement on data are enabling greater sharing and use of data by and across government – necessitating a broad capability uplift right across the public sector.
I recommend that managers use the Data Capability Framework to identify capability areas relevant to their work, and then consider their team’s strength and development needs. This allows managers to make informed decisions on where to focus development, consider ways to help team members practice a particular skill, and coach and mentor others to broaden proficiency across the team.
Another way for managers to improve the data skills of their team would be to encourage staff to join the Data Profession members’ community platform where they can engage with other data professionals across the APS, participate in events, join communities of practice and access learning resources and other artefacts in the community libraries.
Last but not least, another starting point would be publicly available learning resources – for example, the data literacy modules on the APS Academy website.
A big factor is being able to use data skills to solve interesting problems and contribute in a positive way to Australian society. There’s lots of variety in working with data, and a strong focus on innovation and opportunities for learning.
On top of that, data work also offers people the ability to experiment and be curious in collaborative and in supportive environments with other experienced and engaged data professionals.