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Data Infrastructure Competences and Skills Framework: a European and Global Challenge – Brussels workshop

Workshop report: Data Infrastructure Competences and Skills Framework: a European and Global Challenge - Brussels, 9 February, 2016
The ability to create, manage and exploit data has become one of the key challenges for practitioners in nearly all disciplines, sectors and industries. This is particularly true at the European level where, under the Digital Single Market, there is an opportunity to harmonise training and education with the skills needs of research and other infrastructures, as well a industry. The EDISON project, an EU-funded Coordination & Support Action, has been established to build the profession of data science through a combination of two main activities. Firstly, by developing a competence framework that underpins a body of knowledge and model curriculum, and secondly by building a broad community motivated to build the data science profession.

As part of this drive, EDISON convened a meeting in Brussels on the 9th February with representatives from many of the supported infrastructure projects in Europe. The aim of the meeting was to capture current education and training activities across the projects together with future needs and ideas for optimizing opportunities ahead.

Around forty representatives from a range of infrastructure projects and others from related fields met in Brussels for a round-table discussion on education and training. The workshop was structured around three sessions each of which began with a panel discussion which was then opened up for all attendees to contribute. The first session presented input from other eInfrastructure projects including OpenAIRE2020. The next session surveyed the wider landscape at both a European and Global level. This was characterised by the phrase “mind the gap” and followed be a panel discussion on future actions: what is to be done?einfra2 e1
Overall, the sequence of presentations, question and answer sessions, and discussions proved to be productive and beneficial in terms of appreciating the challenges and identifying potential routes forward. It became clear that everyone has digital skills high on their agenda. There was a clear realisation that we need to work collaboratively to prepare human capital for a data-centric future.

Some interesting insights emerged from the discussions, there needs to be clarity in the message that building the data science profession does not mean that everyone must become a data scientist, rather that professional data science skills will be needed by many in diverse roles and across different career paths. Indeed, the term science may be alienating to some working with data in other fields. Furthermore, we need to make the case to the wider world that investing in this goal will enable us to reap greater rewards in the future. We should also convey that we are talking about people throughout all stages of their careers. In the EDISON project we have begun referring to this ever-growing group as life-long learners.

A key goal for EDISON, and the wider community, is to create and propagate the message that what is needed is coordinated training and education aligned to a structured framework that captures the needs of industry, infrastructure and other data-centric employers. Other activities will help to communicate the messages to policy-makers, leaders and similar individuals who will be in a position to enact responses to the challenge. Clearly, giving due credit to trainers and educators is also going to be an important challenge ahead. From EDISON’s perspective, we are keen to act as the hub coordinating these actions to build the profession of data science across Europe and the wider world beyond.

For further information: http://edison-project.eu