Skip to main content

Exploring data literacy initiatives to foster public sector innovation

iTalks Series 2023: Data Literacy for the Public Sector

Published on: 17/05/2023 Last update: 04/10/2023 News



Data skills are essential to extract, describe, predict, and visualize knowledge. The data revolution has brought an increasing demand for professionals equipped with the skills to analyze and extract intelligence. Existing studies have identified a shortage of digital and data skills as one of the key problems the public and private sectors are facing. According to the Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI, 2022), there is a lack of digital skills across the European Union, with only 26% of Europeans having above-basic digital skills. This is also reflected in the EU labor market, where member states, including the frontrunners, face a shortage of digital experts. Based on the 2019 OECD Digital Government Index, the lack of digitally savvy civil servants is a concern, and the World Bank even talks of a public sector digital skills gap.

To draw attention to the new skills that the digital and green transition require, the European Commission has declared 2023 the European Year of Skills.
To kickstart this initiative starting in May 2023, the European Commission Innovation Lab (iLab) is offering throughout the months of June and July a series of six iTalks with ten data literacy experts to understand how different stakeholders aim to address the lack of digital skills, more specifically, data skills.

From national authorities presenting their training programs to academics and international organizations, this series of online talks aims to provide speakers with a platform to share their initiatives and experiences, discuss the challenges and opportunities, and overall promote best practices to further the development of data skills in the public sector.

This series of talks is for anyone interested in learning more about how different stakeholders aim to address the lack of data skills in the public sector. Whether you are working for a public administration (local, regional, and national level), an European institution, an international organization, academia, or if you are just a curious citizen, join us!

To register, use the link below. Feel free to reach out if you encounter any problems:


                                                                  >> REGISTER HERE


Session Description Slides Link to recording
Session 1: Data Literacy for European Public Administrations

On the 14th of June, 13:00-15:00 (UTC+2) took place the first session of our iTalks Series on data literacy in the public sector. We learnt more about data literacy initiatives for European Public Administrations by receiving: 

Vitis FAURE TILGAARD, Policy Officer from DG CNECT, who will tell us more about the Digital Decade and the need for advanced digital skills.

Olli-Pekka RISSANEN, Chief Specialist from the Ministry of Finance in Finland who will tell us more about developing data tools and skills in the Finish public sector.

Helena CAMPBELL, Head of the Open Data Unit for Ireland in the Department of Public Expenditure NDP Delivery and Reform, who will talk to us about data literacy initiatives in the Irish public sector.




Video URL
Session 2: Helping the public sector to develop data skills with ODI and PUBLIC

On the 21st of June, 15:00-16:30 (UTC+2) took place the second session of our iTalks Series, where we had the opportunity to sit down with two organizations who are helping the public sector to develop data skills: Open Data Institute (ODI) and PUBLIC. We received:

Tom PIERONI, Senior Trainer & Learning Manager at ODI,

Thomas CHALK, Director of Data & AI at PUBLIC, responsible for PUBLIC’s data services and capabilities,

Elina LAM-GALL, Director of Learning and Workforce Transformation at PUBLIC



Video URL
Session 3: The Role of Data Stewards in Data Literacy with Dr. Stefaan Verhulst

On the 28th of June, 13:30-14:30 (UTC+2), will take place the third session of our iTalks Series, where we will receive Dr. Stefaan Verhulst Co-Founder and Chief Research, Development Officer and Director of GovLab's Data Program. He is also the co-founder of the Data Tank (Brussels). He will help us learn more about the GovLab’s activities when it comes to data literacy, more specifically the role of Data Stewards. 

Video URL
Session 4: How to prepare public servants for the digital era with David Eaves

On the 30th of June, 13:30-14:30 (UTC+2) will take place the fourth session of our iTalks Series, where we will receive David EAVES, Professor Associate Professor in Digital Government at the UCL Institute for Innovation and Public Purpose (IIPP) and co-founder of the initiative ‘Teaching Public Service in the Digital Age’, which has sought to bring together faculty from around the world to co-design a curriculum to teach digital competencies for future public leaders.

Video URL
Session 5: Developing data literacy in the public sector for a more mature digital government with Barbara Ubaldi

On the 3rd of July, 13:30-14:30 (UTC+2), we will have the fifth session of our iTalks Series, our speaker is Barbara Ubaldi, Head of the Digital Government and Data Unit and the deputy Head of Division, in the Division on Open and Innovative Governments within the OECD Public Governance Directorate. She will tell us more about how to develop data literacy in the public sector to contribute to a more mature digital government.

Video URL
Session 6: How can data literacy contribute to evidence-informed policy making with Professor Gaby Umbach 

To conclude, on the 5th of July, 14:00-15:00 (UTC+2) for our last session of our iTalks Series on data literacy in the public sector, we are receiving Gaby UMBACH, Part-time Professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies of the European University Institute (EUI) where she leads the Global Governance Programme’s research area on ‘Knowledge, Governance, Transformations’. She will tell us more about statistical and data literacy in policymaking.

Video URL



                                                                                        >> REGISTER HERE

About the Digital Innovation Lab

The Digital Innovation Lab, commonly referred to as iLab, is an open platform for digital innovation within the European Commission and aims to create links and collaboration with external stakeholders, including local and national public administrations, academia, and industry. The iLab aims at developing innovative, sustainable, and responsive methodologies, models, and tools for improved policymaking and service delivery. Its mission is to act as an incubator for innovation with a foresight capacity to assess opportunities stemming from concrete use or business cases, innovative organizational models, and a special focus on cutting-edge data technologies.

iTalks are a series of talks offered by the iLab that aim to shed light on innovative practices within organizations and play a central role by giving the floor to different stakeholders to share their experiences on how they engage with innovation. 

Interested in organizing an iTalk series with us? Please get in touch with us at

Shared on

Last update: 24/06/2024

GovTech Connect

Smart citiesDigital-ready policymaking+3 topics
Last update: 28/03/2024


eGovernmentLicensingContent and knowledge management
Last update: 14/02/2024


Last update: 15/04/2024

Public Sector Tech Watch

Digital innovationObservatories+2 topics
Last update: 14/02/2024

Digital Skills in the public sector

Open Source SoftwareStandardisation+7 topics