Research to find out more about the people who work with data in local authority social services has revealed the biggest opportunities and challenges they face.
Social Finance, a non-profit consultancy company who carried out this research on our behalf, found that workers have a wide range of general data skills but need more support to become skilled in collecting social care data. It also found that many data analysts rely on developing skills in the workplace instead of being given formal training.
The research continues the work of our strategic approach to social care data in Wales. It brought together more than 80 people from local authorities, healthcare, higher education and government organisations across Wales who were involved in workshops, interviews and a survey.
Owen Davies, our Data and Intelligence Manager, said: “We were interested to learn more about the people who work in data within social services in local authorities, so at the start of 2022 we commissioned Social Finance to look into this.
“In particular, we wanted to find out how people come to work in social care data roles, how they gain skills and what opportunities they have for continuing professional development and career progression. We also wanted to know whether it would be useful to introduce a formal professional development framework to help improve people’s skills.”
The research found evidence of a range of skills and abilities for using data effectively and that social services in Wales share a number of the same issues with data skills as many other public sector organisations.
Owen Davies added: “Most analysts told us they learned their skills ‘on the job’, as training opportunities for data analysts can be expensive. We also found that data team managers don’t always understand which courses they should send their staff on and the internal courses on offer only cover topics such as data governance.
“The research also found that the data analysts need technical data skills and a good knowledge of social care to be the most successful. This knowledge can be difficult to gather without lots of experience in the job.”
As a response to the research findings, the report contains recommendations that could help support people working in data in social care. The recommendations include introducing a series of small-scale projects, such as creating a training resources library and crowdsourcing job descriptions to see if this helps the workforce develop.
The full findings and recommendations are in the final report, available for download below.