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Building digital workforce capacity and skills for data-intensive science: CODATA contributes to new OECD report on skills for the digital workforce

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OECD has published ‘Building digital workforce capacity and skills for data-intensive science’, a report examining the skills requirements for data-intensive science, focusing primarily on research conducted in the public sector and its related training needs.  

The use of digital technologies affects all aspects of scientific practice. Open science practices rely upon access to and use of research data, and deployment of digital infrastructures and platforms is increasing; but inadequate attention has been given to the skills that researchers and research support professionals need to fully exploit these tools and strategies. The COVID-19 pandemic, which struck as this report was being finalised, has underscored the critical importance of data-intensive science and the need for strategic approaches to strengthening the digital capacity and skills of research as it is now performed.

This report was commissioned by the OECD Global Science Forum to identify: the skills needs for data intensive science; the challenges for building sustainable capacity as these needs evolve; and the policy actions that can taken by different actors to address these needs.  The report includes policy recommendations for various actors and good practice examples to support these recommendations.  The report notes the value of international cooperation in skills capacity efforts such as the partnership between CODATA and the Research Data Alliance on the School of Research Data Science, as well as how the School helps to define digital skills needs, and how the School meets skills needs that are not being addressed elsewhere. 

Dr Simon Hodson, CODATA Executive Director, was a member of the Expert Group which oversaw and implemented this project.  In addition Laura Molloy, CODATA Senior Research Lead, and Prof Hugh Shanahan of the CODATA/RDA School of Research Data Science participated in the October 2019 workshop which informed this timely publication.  The report and expert group was ably chaired by Michelle Barker, previously at ARDC and now director of the Research Software Alliance (ReSA), with the support of Carthage Smith and his team at OECD Global Science Forum.  We are pleased to have collaborated with a range of other global actors in this project and hope this report will be of interest and value to the CODATA community. 

OECD (2020), “Building digital workforce capacity and skills for data-intensive science”, OECD Science, Technology and Industry Policy Papers, No. 90, OECD Publishing, Paris,