Cabinet Secretary Simon Case has promised to give all civil servants a day of data training this year after admitting that “making better use of data… is an obsession of mine”.
Case is the most senior Civil Service adviser to the Prime Minister and has been in the role since September 2020.
In a speech delivered at Bristol University, Case highlighted the need to spread data training beyond specialists and graduates. He said: “Our data training is not just for specialists or graduates. It’s far too important for that. All civil servants – half a million of them, from apprentices right up to permanent secretaries – will this year complete at least one day of dedicated data training.
“And I know that doesn’t sound like a lot – one day of data training – but that’s 500,000 days of training in a year. Because we do need our data experts, the 'ninjas' as I call them. The reality is that every civil servant needs to be better equipped to use data in how they solve problems and design and deliver public services.”
The civil service chief described how data is now “vital” in the support of government decision making, and highlighted the work of the Office for National Statistics in “leading the way.”
“The next step is its Integrated Data Service, set to launch later this year. Although still in beta phase, it will enable us to combine and compare information from right across the public sector about what’s happening in the public services, what’s happening in the economy and what’s happening across society.”
Case also revealed that half of the next group of recruits to government’s graduate scheme will come from an academic background in the fields of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) in order to put “those skills at the heart of everything we’re doing.”
Other changes to the Fast Stream programme this year include the introduction of regional schemes in northern England, updated training for new recruits to focus on digital, finance and commercial skills.