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International Project seeks to Develop Data Skills Amongst Aspiring Development Professionals

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The Development Counts: Data Skills for International Development Careers project is an ERASMUS+ funded project seeking to support the next generation of development professionals to harness the power of data for global social good. The project is led by the University of Gloucestershire in the UK, in collaboration with Gazi Üniversitesi (Turkey), L-Università ta’ Malta (Malta) and Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED, Spain).

The project has launched new open access data skills for global development training materials in English, Spanish and Turkish. The design of the training programme was informed by in-depth interviews with development professionals in Malta, Spain, Turkey and the UK about data skills requirements in the sector. The interviews highlighted that technical data skills alone are not enough: to successfully use data for good in global development, graduates must be able to critically evaluate data and its quality, navigate the politics of data, and collaborate with and influence a range of stakeholders. A full analysis of the interviews has been published in Open Access format in the Journal of International Development: Bringing about the data revolution in development: What data skills do aspiring development professionals need?

Based on insights from the interviews, the training programme was designed to co-develop technical skills in data handling with transferable skills such as international and intercultural collaboration and digital communication.  One of the interviewees encouraged the team to ‘open the appetite’ of future professionals to the possibilities of data for global development – mastering some basics and developing confidence to deepen and expand their skills in the future, as what’s possible to achieve with data evolves. In a rapidly changing data landscape and against a backdrop of lack of confidence in this area, the project team thought this was a great metaphor for what the programme should try to achieve. It is not possible to create data experts with one programme nor teach future development professionals all the data techniques that may be useful across the course of their careers (some of which may not yet exist). However, it is possible to provide foundational training and seek to build confidence and enthusiasm around working with data covering a range of different types of skills. Therefore, this phrase became the theme for the programme – with each section relating to a stage in preparing a meal.  The theme also hopefully makes the material more entertaining and accessible for learners who may be apprehensive about learning in this area!

There are three parts to the training programme: 

  • PART 1: Online self-study course organised into 5 modules to introduce key material, hosted on the UNED Abierta learning platform.
  • PART 2: Online live tutor-led activities to extend and consolidate learning from self-study modules and support team building.
  • PART 3: Activities to support learners to complete remote team projects, applying their learning to real world  development data scenarios whilst developing cross-cultural teamwork and communication skills.

The training programme is  designed for groups of students from different institutions to complete together online over a one-week period. However, it is also possible to mix and match the parts of the learning resources that are most suitable, and the resources may appeal to others interested in data for development training too – especially part 1, the online self-study course.

Links to all the training materials in English, Spanish and Turkish are available on the project website.

If you have any questions about the project or how to use the training programme, please contact Dr Rachel Bennett (project lead) on:  You can also follow us on Twitter @DataSkills4Dev and join our LinkedIn group Development Counts: Data Skills for International Development Careers Project Associates