Open Knowledge Foundation challenges government on data skills

The foundation has submitted a written statement that warns against dangers of not investing in data skills

The Open Knowledge Foundation has submitted a written challenge to the UK government, urging investment in digital skills through the new National Data Strategy.

The letter from the foundation warns that a failure to ensure data knowledge is shared will mean that many people, businesses and public bodies will not be able to play a full role in our increasingly digital world.

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Allowing people to make better decisions and choices informed by data, the foundation says, will boost the UK’s economy through greater productivity, requiring an investment in skills.

Proposals in the letter include:

  • A data literacy training programme open to local communities to ensure UK workers have the skills for the technological jobs of the future.
  • Citizen science projects through schools, libraries, churches and community groups to help people collect high-quality data relating to issues such as air quality or recycling.
  • Greater use of open licences, which grant the general public rights to reuse, distribute, combine or modify works that would otherwise be restricted under intellectual property laws.

Catherine Stihler, chief executive of the Open Knowledge Foundation, said: “Without training and knowledge, large numbers of UK workers will be ill-equipped to take on many jobs of the future.

“We also need to see pioneering new ways of producing and harnessing citizen-generated data through schools, libraries, churches and community groups, which in turn could help the government to collect high-quality data relating to issues such as air quality or recycling.

“With a clear commitment from the Government, the UK has an opportunity to be at the forefront of a global future that is fair, free and open.”

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Proposals for a new National Data Strategy were announced by UK government in June 2018, with the aim of unlocking ‘the power of data across government and the wider economy, while building citizen trust in its use’.

For more information on the Open Knowledge Foundation, visit

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