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The ABS has commenced work to identify and progress six initial signature initiatives and is engaging across the APS to further develop and refine these to ensure applicability across the APS.
A Data Professional Network will be established to build professional capability through sharing experience and knowledge. Analysis of the APS Job Family data suggests there are approximately 5,500 APS employees in the APS data workforce spread over 24 agencies.
The Network will be open to all APS staff in data roles and will provide shared access to resources, promote learning opportunities, establish best practice and engage regularly.
Events such as data hackathons may be sponsored by agencies to tackle problems where sophisticated and innovative data use may hold the key.
Regular newsletters will be produced to share knowledge and build connections. These will include updates on progress against the Data Professional Stream Strategy initiatives, access to resources on a shared platform, webinars with guest speakers of note and cross-agency working groups.
Many data networks already exist across the APS (e.g. Data Champions Network, APS Data Network, Graduate Data Network, Commonwealth Statistical Geospatial Forum). The Data Professional Network communications and events will provide new opportunities for these established networks to share and promote their work, and that of their members, across the wider data profession. The Data Professional Network will collaborate and partner with these existing networks to achieve common goals.
The Data Professional Stream will include an entry-level pathway for people with data credentials or analytical capability. Once staff have been recruited, the APS provides the opportunity to further develop, enhance and retain people with core professional data skills and experiences.
A single process to recruit Data Graduates provides an efficient way for agencies to build this expertise. The ABS has taken the lead with this initiative for the 2021 intake of Data Graduates on behalf of 11 participating APS agencies, which will include a trial of rotating Data Graduates across selected agencies. Agencies have been encouraged to participate in the selection processes (e.g. provide a panel member) where resources allow.
For the 2021 intake, candidates were able to submit one application and undertake one recruitment process for multiple agencies. Suitable candidates will be asked their two top preferences for agencies they want to work in, and preferred location, with the aim of matching as many preferences as possible.
For the 2022 Data Graduate intake this initiative will grow, with more agencies participating in the streamlined Data Graduate selection. Data Graduates are expected to be offered a rotational placement across a mix of central, policy and service delivery agencies and undertake an ABS-led Data Development module during their first year of employment.
Under this model, individual agencies opting into the centralised process fund their Graduate placements across the APS. For the 2022 intake a cost model to fund recruitment and development module costs will be introduced.
There are key data roles where attracting data professionals with relevant credentials is highly desirable.
When recruiting talent for key data leadership roles, agencies will be encouraged to include a data expert on their panel who can provide professional advice. This will ensure the right data capabilities are sought and appropriate credentials are maintained.
Unlike the Digital and HR professions, there are very few identified Senior Executive Data roles. As such, the initial focus will be providing data experts for EL1 and EL2 selection processes.
The role of the data experts will be clearly defined and communicated. To test this initiative, a trial will be undertaken in 2021, identifying up to 10 data experts (EL2 to SESB2) from selected agencies to form a panel that any agency can access.
An APS agency will run a trial, including providing access to data expert profiles through an online platform. The initial identification of data experts will be undertaken through a mix of self-nomination and invitation. The Data Professional Stream will promote the availability of data experts across the APS and encourage agency panels to self-select from the profiles.
The data expert profiles will include information such as roles undertaken in last five years, panel experience, diversity, niche data expertise and availability considerations (e.g. part-time).
Data experts will be able to choose whether they will participate on a panel when invited. When they do participate they will be required to provide key data and feedback to the agency leading this initiative on the process to capture demand, key metrics and learnings.
In 2022, learnings will be applied and the number of data experts within the panel will be expanded.
Compared to the broader APS, there are more male employees working in data roles, and under-representation of those with ongoing disability or who identify as Aboriginal and/or Torres Strait Islander. Increasing the diversity profile of data roles will ensure the data workforce better reflects the communities which we serve, and those to whom the data relates.
The initiative seeks a commitment from all agencies to build diversity across the data workforce, and to improve diversity over the employee lifecycle.
The Data Professional Stream will build inclusion into its set-up and program from the outset. Creation of an inclusive culture in the Data Professional Stream builds the foundation for improved workforce diversity in data roles. Data Professional Stream foundation documents will include clearly articulated expectations of behavior of all members and agencies, and commit to accessibility of all Data Professional Stream events and communications.
Embedding diversity into activities at all stages of the employee lifecycle will gradually build increased diversity in APS data roles. Activities will reflect the APS Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander, Disability and Gender Equality workforce diversity strategies being updated and released in 2020.
Initial efforts will focus on the attraction, recruitment and onboarding lifecycle stages. This includes ensuring that there are no barriers to attracting and recruiting a diverse data workforce to the APS. Subsequent efforts will focus on the personal development and retention stages of the employee lifecycle.
The 2019 APS employee census indicated that although use of data is a common element of job roles across the APS, employees often feel that there are skills shortages in relation to data.
The primary focus of this initiative is to establish opportunities to develop sophisticated data users. To achieve this, existing capability building resources, courses and learning immersion opportunities will be shared and promoted. Possible examples include online training packages, a cross-agency key speaker series, data fellowships and university offerings. Ensuring that APS data users are aware of and have access to these opportunities will be critical to the success of this initiative.
Micro-credential opportunities, along with establishing a Recognition of Prior Learning/credit process, will be explored in partnership with universities. Defining tertiary pathways that enable micro-credentials and credit to link into existing formal qualifications will also be considered within this initiative.
A capability framework will be developed to bring these learning and development offerings together in a structured manner that enables data users to easily identify capability building opportunities.
Mobility is a mechanism to build data capability and encourage cross-pollination of context, experience, knowledge, skills and expertise. High-performing data professionals should be encouraged to be more mobile across APS agencies, State and Territory jurisdictions, private sector and academia to share their expertise and grow APS data capability.
To strengthen the development of professional data capability, a trial mobility program will be developed to create short-term (up to 6 month) secondments or ‘swap’ opportunities for high performing data experts between interested agencies. For example, swapping an expert from a data user agency with one in a data producer agency with similar subject matter expertise. These short-term opportunities will allow for exchanges of knowledge and growth of skills for individuals, while also building data capability and sharing expertise across the APS.
This initiative could be matured in the future to include opportunities for cross-agency project work for data teams or individual data professionals with particular expertise. It could also be expanded to include mobility opportunities to State and Territory jurisdictions, private sector or academia.
The Data Professional Stream will align with the APS Mobility Framework and will work with the HR and Digital Professional Streams to determine whether there are opportunities to collaborate and include data professionals in other mobility initiatives that are also in development.