What is data literacy and why should you care?

Bronwyn Scott
February 27, 2020

You might have heard this term thrown about a bit recently.  Perhaps it’s because you’ve heard politicians referring to it when discussing educational reform, or you’ve noticed how your job has you doing more with spreadsheets than you did five years ago.  What ever it is, if you’re still a bit unsure, hopefully this blog will help you out.

What is data literacy?

“Science and maths are the only real international languages” ~ My high school science and maths teachers.

Gartner defines data literacy as the ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied – and the ability to describe the use case, application and resulting value [source].

MIT says that data literacy  is an ability to read, work with, analyze and argue with data [source].

Why should you care?

Have you noticed that more and more, your life is dependent on a computer?  From that iPhone you carry around to the spreadsheets you have on the go at work, there’s now more data and information floating about,  and it’s easier to access that data.  What we’re missing are the skills to best use that data to get some insights to make our boat go faster, meaning, we need to get better at data literacy.

It’s been found that skills like knowing how to input data, generate better insights and feeling empowered to use it to inform decision making aren’t being taught at all, or effectively, prior to someone entering the workforce.  That means that either we need to teach ourselves, or our employer needs to provide that opportunity (as that will only mean that their boat goes faster) with Airbnb’s Data U just one example of this being implemented.

There’s also those people (like me) who aren’t necessarily in a job where you’re knee deep in data, but there’s no escaping that if you were able to analyse data more efficiently and accurately, you’re future proofing yourself.

Getting started

Try this course:  Qlik Data Literacy Program (free).

Other resources:

I’ve recently been working my way through the Qlik Data Literacy course (read this blog on my halfway point thoughts), and would love to know any resources you’ve come across or if you have any questions about my journey so far.

Herding all the nerds (and maybe even slowly becoming one myself…?)


Bronnie is a woman of many talents; you’ll find her managing contracts, people and our marketing, she also flies planes and manages events.

Connect with Bronnie on LinkedIn or read some of her other blogs here.

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