Training Programme Design

The design of the Development Counts Project learning and teaching resources was informed by in-depth interviews with development professionals in Malta, Spain, Turkey and the UK about data skills requirements in the sector. The interviews included questions on data science advances, software choice, and the relative importance of soft skills, as well as questions seeking insights about how data skills are used within their organisation and projections on this for the future.

The research team recognises that conducting this research in project partner countries only gives a perspective on the issues from the Global North. However, within the countries eligible to take part in the ERASMUS+ programme, partner institutions were deliberately chosen to ensure social, economic and cultural diversity and by sharing this research the ambition is that this research will initiate conversations on data training for development sector careers and similarities and differences across world regions.

Key Interviews Insights on Data Skills Needs in Global Development

  • Consistent acknowledgement of the potential of data & that greater use of data ‘is coming’
  • Enthusiasm for the potential of data science but also a clear need for broader data literacy
  • Varied views on preferred software, but emphasis on widely available programmes particularly Microsoft Excel and open source programmes such as R
  • High value attached to effective data visualisation & communication to non-specialists
  • Data skills are only useful if they are grounded in real world contexts

Opening the Appetite Data Skills for Global Development Training Programme Design

Based on insights from the interviews, the training programme was designed to co-develop ‘technical’ skills in data handling with ‘soft’ skills such as international and intercultural collaboration and digital communication. One of the interviewees encouraged the team to ‘Open the Appetite’ of future professionals to the possibilities of data for global development – mastering some basics and developing confidence to deepen and expand their skills in the future as what’s possible to achieve with data evolves.

In a rapidly changing data landscape and against a backdrop of a common lack of confidence working with data amongst students, the project team thought this was a great metaphor for what the programme should try to achieve.

‘Opening the Appetite’ became the theme for the programme – with each area of material covered relating to a stage in preparing a meal. Hopefully the theme also makes the material more entertaining and accessible for learners!

Opening the Appetite Data Skills for Global Development Training Programme Pilot

All parts of the training programme was piloted in September 2021 with students at the project partner universities: Gazi Üniversitesi (Turkey), University of Gloucestershire (UK), L-Università ta’ Malta (Malta) and Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia (UNED, Spain). The programme was then refined based on student and staff feedback before being made available on our website. Here is some of the feedback from pilot programme participants:

“The course was beyond perfect. I really enjoyed working on R although it was challenging. The lessons were simple and fun.”

Ayana Onurlu, pilot programme participant & undergraduate student at Gazi Üniversitesi, Turkey

“It has been a very interesting experience! I would like to highlight the international aspect of the course. It has been very satisfying to work with people from different countries. In addition, we have been able to deepen a relevant project with current and real problems. A very dynamic and well-organised training.”

Elena Dacal Picazo, pilot programme participant & undergraduate student at Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Spain

Briefing Papers on Development Data Blind Spots produced by the pilot programme particiapnts as part of their international team projects (PROGRAMME PART 3) are available to view HERE


A full analysis of the interviews has been published in Open Access format in the Journal of International Development:

Bringing about the data revolution in development: What data skills do aspiring development professionals need?

In addition the team published an expert blog based on the research as part of the UN World Data Forum 2020:

What data skills should universities be teaching students aspiring to make a difference in global development?

The team also published a blog summarising the research and how it informed the training programme design for CODATA: The International Science Committee’s Committee on Data:

International Project seeks to Develop Data Skills among Aspiring Data Professionals