Developing Data Talent for Social Impact

Developing Data Talent for Social Impact

Many believe in a future in which people everywhere can use data to solve society’s greatest challenges. To realize this potential, building the next generation of diverse data talent for social impact is essential. and the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation (PJMF) released Workforce Wanted: Data Talent for Social Impact, a first-of-its-kind report on global data talent in the social sector. This report delivers a definitive talent and training landscape for purpose-driven data professionals, confronting the realities of persistent data skills shortages and ongoing barriers that exclude women and historically marginalized communities from the field.

Workforce Wanted clarifies what is needed to identify, cultivate, support, and retain a diverse workforce of data professionals to solve the world's most pressing challenges, such as climate change, healthcare disparities, food insecurity, and lack of financial inclusion.

The report explores four potential pathways to develop a robust workforce of data professionals:

  1. New talent
  2. Existing talent
  3. Transitional talent
  4. Leadership

"Data-driven nonprofits face a critical resource gap: experienced data professionals with lived experience of communities around the world," said Claudia Juech, vice president of data and society at the PJMF. "Building a diverse and deep talent pool will equip social change organizations to reduce bias within data, unearth better insights, and enable improved decision-making on serious issues facing humanity."

Through a review of nearly 200 data talent initiatives, a literature review of approximately 90 articles and reports, expert interviews with 30+ leaders across the globe, and extensive desk research, this report surveys the current state of data training and talent initiatives and culminates in this landscape analysis of the sector's challenges.

Together, PJMF and tapped the research capabilities and global network of Dalberg to produce this sector-defining report and to explore what is needed to shape an inclusive, diverse, equitable, and accessible (IDEA) talent base of data professionals driving social impact.

"The Workforce Wanted report provides an important foundation for understanding how building a diverse generation of data professionals is essential for advancing socioeconomic goals. Across low and middle-income countries, our conservative estimate is that there is potential to create a cohort of 3.5 million data professionals focused on social impact," said Robin Miller, regional director for Africa, and global digital and data practice lead at Dalberg.

"In advancing the purpose-driven data talent workforce, we must act boldly to ensure better and more access to training and upskilling opportunities for women, people of color, and people from different economic backgrounds and conditions. This mission calls for partnerships across sectors — social impact organizations, government, philanthropy, academia, and tech — to develop, foster, and unlock data talent. This report illuminates the opportunity to align on shared goals and create a plan which is both achievable and ambitious. Together we can build and empower a workforce and a social sector that can harness the power of data to benefit everyone, everywhere." said Ginger Zielinskie, senior advisor at

Download the full report.

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