How executive programmes can solve Australia’s data literacy gaps

SOURCE: Torsten Silz / afp
Australian universities offer executive programmes in data literacy.

By U2B Staff 

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As technologies continue to evolve at a rapid pace across all industrial sectors, it’s not surprising that the current workforce needs to be equipped with the latest data literacy skills. 

Among one of these essential digital skills that are required in today’s employment market is data literacy, or the ability to interpret and evaluate data and be able to apply it to practice. 

In Australia, these skills are essential for all employees working under the Australian Public Service (APS) to ensure that all forms of decision-making that fall under the public service sector are adequately informed by reliable and appropriately disseminated data.

However, a report by Accenture and data solutions provider Qlik indicates that there is still an obvious digital skills gap among businesses in terms of data literacy. 

The report, conducted on behalf of the Data Literacy Project and titled The Human Impact of Data Literacy, showed that out of 9,000 employees around the world (with 1,000 of them being from Australia), many of them struggled to make sense of data despite acknowledging the importance of it for the sake of the business. 

Unfortunately, this data literacy gap among the Australian workforce may result in an adverse impact in terms of productivity and business value. This has created a need for employers to upskill their employees and train them in data literacy skills. 


Most Australian universities provide executive education programmes aimed at developing digital literacy. 

At the RMIT, the Data Literacy credential is open to current RMIT students and is a stackable credential under the Data Literacy stack. 

The course covers the security and legal considerations on how personal data can be collected, stored, and use as well as the basics of how data management with considerations towards privacy, confidentiality, and copyright. 

Among the course content is to help professionals use digital tools to manage personal and corporate data as well as to interpret and report data in personal and professional contexts. The course content will also emphasize the ethical and safe use of personal and corporate data. 

The learning outcomes of the course which mainly consists of project tasks and online assessments are to show an understanding of the benefits and risks associated with data usage as well as demonstrating knowledge of how data should be collected, stored, and accessed.

Meanwhile, at the University of Sydney, a more sector-specific postgrad qualification in this field is available. 

Called the Sydney Professional Certificate in Data Literacy for Health Policymakers, this professional course is designed for those working in health policy and economics and will equip them with the skills needed to critically appraise, analyse, and use data for policy and medical-practice-related decision-making. 

Consisting of two online and block mode units of study, the programme will increase students’ understanding of the links between evidence, policy, and practice.

This will eventually build up a range of skills that will enable students to make appropriate changes and implementing policies backed up by evidential knowledge in the form of data.

The course is most suitable for users in public health, health policy, and economics professionals who wish to improve their information and data literacy for health policymaking.