Business intelligence and data visualisation company Qlik launched a data literacy certificate that is said to be “a comprehensive measure of an individual’s data literacy,” including both hard and soft skills.
The hard skills include understanding and interpreting data, and data storytelling while the soft skills encompass creativity, problem-solving and communication. The 70-question examination is two hours long and passing would lead to a physical certificate that a person could put on their CV or Linkedin profile, according to Qlik’s chief learning officer Kevin Hanegan.
He said: “If the candidates pass and are certified, they can use the digital certification badge as a way to promote themselves to potential employers. If they don’t pass it gives them the opportunity to understand where their gaps are and they can continue educating themselves and re-take the exam.”
Hanegan said that there are modules in the platform comprising ten - 15 hours of learning. The candidates have to spend time practising what they learn and applying it to real life scenarios. Over time they will reach the level of proficiency to be certified.
In his view, this is not a technical exam but is geared towards everyone from students and lecturers at university to 12-year-old gamers to grocery shoppers. He added that at Qlik, he and his colleagues are taking their own medicine and are on a mission to be certified in data literacy. “It isn’t specific to an audience type or an industry,” he said.
Hanegan said that even though mathematicians, statisticians and data scientists might think they wouldn’t benefit greatly from taking this exam, they may still have gaps in their knowledge relating to understanding and being aware of bias in data, and communicating decisions once they have been made.
But is there a need for this type of exam? Hanegan said there is. “There is nothing today besides this that you can put on your LinkedIn profile or resume that says that you are data literate. The Data Literacy Project and the Data Literacy Index highlights that companies are desperately searching for this skill.”
The curriculum for the exam was developed by a group of adult learning specialists within Qlik. They did a jobs-tasks analysis looking at a large population of students, customers and partners of Qlik to understand what data skills they would need in everyday life.
“Once we did that analysis, we tied everything down into seven high-level objectives and sub-objectives. We validated those objectives with industry experts around the concept of data literacy, and talked to the Data Literacy Project board members and said ‘here’s our blueprint for the skills needed’,” he said.
The feedback from the board members was incorporated and Hanegan and his team, including the adult learning specialists, created an exam that tested knowledge and competencies related to those objectives. He said that if a businessperson had the skills tested in the exam, they would be able to take a data approach to their problems.
“For example, if sales are low, they should be able to know enough about their data to understand what tools and techniques to apply. If one of those techniques is an advanced predictive model or simulation, they should know that there is a tool or a person that does the data science who will come back with a report with a set of numbers in it. Someone who is data literate needs to be able to interpret those numbers.”