US-based software company, Qlik today announced its intention to drive data literacy in Australia by partnering with more than 20 educational universities across the country.

The Qlik Academic Program will provide educational institutions including Macquarie University, Monash University, Swinburne University, the University of Melbourne, the University of New South Wales, the University of Queensland, the University of Sydney and the University of Technology Sydney with tools and services to help both teachers and students advance their data literacy skills.

Qlik recently surveyed 5,288 full-time employees from the APAC region, and found that only 19 per cent of respondents described themselves as data literate.

Mike Potter, CTO of Qlik told Which-50 that the survey demonstrated a clear skills gap in the APAC region and a a perceived lack of access, comfort and fluency of data.

“Within Australia, roughly only one in five people self-reported as being data literate,” he said.

The CTO said the survey demonstrated evidence of literacy gaps in professional organisations all the way up to the C level.

“The higher up you get in an organisation, you may have more access to data, but the survey seemed to demonstrate less comfort or fluency, whereas within lower levels of organisations, access was a bigger problem.”

The Qlik Academic Program provides university lecturers free and ready-to-teach resources which include instructor-led content, in-class activities, sample data sets, and student assignments all housed in its online learning portal, the Qlik Continuous Classroom. The 24/7, subscription, self-service learning portal includes hands-on exercises, quick references guides, assessments, the ability to chat with live instructors, and earn qualifications in the form of certificates and digital badges.

The Qlik Sense Qualification feature allows students to track how they are progressing and establish their level of comfort with data analytics.

The CTO says that a key weakness in existing education systems are often more focused on practice than using data to make a point.

“There is an express opportunity here, for students and graduates to not only be able to understand the different educational styles of data, but we want to help them develop a fluency and intuition with data, and an ability to interpret it in different ways,” he said.

The CTO drew a parallel between the literacy offered by the printing press which led to the enlightenment, and the opportunities offered by data literacy.

“We see organisations that are unwilling to give access to data, and who define knowledge as power, having privileged access to data,” he said. “As the democratisation of data occurs, we want to make sure that there is the right level of data for everyone in the right levels of organisation. There is an opportunity for a data enlightenment equivalent.”

The CTO told Which-50 that more than 1,000 universities across more than 65 different countries have signed up for the Qlik Academic Program.

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