Data Month

4th to 29th September, 2023

Data plays a transformative role as we continue to reform public services in Scotland. This September, everyone in the Scottish Government is encouraged to undertake professional learning around the theme of data.

A message from the Permanent Secretary

“I am grateful to our Scottish Digital Academy and the Chief Data Officer, in partnership with the People Directorate, for developing a range of flexible learning opportunities for us in the Scottish Government. I would like to encourage colleagues to participate in this learning during September if you can. With good data, we can understand and learn, explain and improve, all with the good intent of improving outcomes and human experiences in Scotland. Good data is a core capability to delivering progress, and we need to keep pace with technological advances, upskilling ourselves to use data effectively when the opportunities arise. I hope you can join in and enjoy the experience.”

JP Marks, Permanent Secretary


Keynote address from the Chief Data Officer

Tom Wilkinson is the Chief Data Officer at the Scottish Government, with extensive hands-on experience working across Data Science, Data Analysis, Data Architecture, Software Development and Data Engineering. With his wealth of experience working in various UK government departments, he has spent several years developing and improving organisations’ use of data to inform policy and operational decisions. Here, you’ll hear from Tom as he provides insights into data and artificial intelligence, during his keynote address at the Scottish AI Summit.

Watch the keynote


Strategy, policy and blog articles

Our Digital Strategy

Scotland’s future will be forged in a digital world. It’s a world in which data and digital technologies are transforming every element of our nation and our lives – people, place, economy and government.

Data and Statistics

We have a vision for data – that data is systematically used to improve decision making, saving time, money and lives.

AI Strategy

The Strategy marks a new chapter in Scotland’s relationship with artificial intelligence. It is the result of an extensive consultation and engagement programme involving academia, industry, the public sector and the people of Scotland.

Data Maturity

Providing a Data Transformation Framework (DTF) that will meet all the data improvement needs that an organisation might want to address is a challenging proposition.

Unlocking the Value of Data 

Guest blog by Angela Daly, outgoing chair of the Independent Expert Group on Unlocking the Value of Data.

Exploring Data Ethics

Michaela Omelkova, Data Ethics Advisor for the Data & Intelligence Network, provides an update on the pilot public engagement panel looking at the ethical use of public sector data.

Data for the People

How data and technology can bring government closer to the people, via EY Global.

Data Maturity programme update

Blog by Sally Kerr, Project Manager in Digital Directorate’s Technical Data Policy team.

This post provides an update on our Data Maturity programme and its development.

Developing a Data Transformation Framework

Blog by Shona Nicol, Team leader for Data Standards, Technical Data Policy team.

The public sector have always held enormous quantities of data, but now we need to make sure we use it properly – optimising its value as a strategic resource.

Co-producing the data commitment for Scotland’s Open Government Action Plan

Hi, my name is Martin Macfie and I lead the Open Data team in the Scottish Government’s, Digital Directorate. This article illustrates our commitment to open data.

Getting up close with data standards

Blog by Lucie Woellenstein, PhD intern in the Data Standards team, Digital Directorate.

Finding public sector data

We want to help people find data using simple search terms without needing to know the specific name of the data, who owns it and where it might be published. 

Join the ONS Data Masterclass from 11th September

“Data is a strategic resource. Using it effectively is an important part of our corporate transformation to a more efficient, data-driven and digitally enabled public sector. Senior colleagues have a critical role supporting this journey and the Data Masterclass will ensure we are equipped to ask the right questions of our data and work alongside our talented analytical community to inform decisions and improve services. I would encourage as many of you as possible to sign up to the course and will look forward to seeing how it helps us contribute to better outcomes for the people of Scotland.”

Lesley Fraser, Director-General Corporate



Courses, self-directed learning and webinars

ONS Data Masterclass

This 3 week self-directed course is available via the ONS and FutureLearn. The course begins on 11th September. It provides insight into the value of data and considerations in application.

Digital Leadership Essentials

This short course runs on 7th and 28 September and explores the role of leadership in our digital world, with a specific focus on supporting transformation and developing a digital mindset. 

Driving Value from Data

The Data Lab’s online Driving Value From Data course takes you through the opportunities presented by data. It will help you champion data as a strategic asset and realise your organisational potential to use data for improved decision making.

A Conversation with the Chief Data Officer

Join the Chief Data Officer at 11am on 13th September as he explores Data Month and the importance of developing data skills across government. 

Introduction to Administrative Data

This is an online self-directed learning opportunity offered via Pathways.

Introduction to Generative AI

Learn more about Generative AI, a form of artificial intelligence in which models are trained to generate new original content based on natural language input. 

Digital Literacy 

Explore the fundamentals of working with operating systems, applications, and productivity tools such as Microsoft Word and Excel, and learn to confidently navigate the online world.

Skills for the Digital Economy

Microsoft and LinkedIN have unlocked new courses and 7 Professional Certificates to help people learn the foundational skills and relevant hard and soft skills needed for in-demand tech and tech-enabled jobs.

Microsoft Enterprise Skills

Sharpen your data skills and knowledge of Microsoft solutions by enrolling in interactive courses and training designed for your role, and advance your career by getting certified. Use your SCOTS email address to register.

Microsoft Learn

Build digital and data skills that open doors. See all you can do with documentation, hands-on training, and certifications. Use your SCOTS email address to register.

AWS Cloud Training

Scottish Government Civil Servants can access free training on data and cloud applications and services. Use your SCOTS email address to register.

AWS Skills Builder

Advance your professional goals with access to 600+ free courses, gain experience in an AWS Management Console sandbox, explore game-based learning, take AWS Certification Official Practice Exams, and more. Use your SCOTS email address to register.

AI For Beginners

Microsoft offers a 12-week, 24-lesson curriculum all about Artificial Intelligence. For a gentle introduction to AI in the Cloud topics you may consider taking the Get started with artificial intelligence on Azure Learning Path.

Data Science for Beginners

Microsoft offers a 10-week, 20-lesson curriculum all about Data Science. Each lesson includes pre-lesson and post-lesson quizzes, written instructions to complete the lesson, a solution, and an assignment.

IoT for Beginners

Microsoft offers a 12-week, 24-lesson curriculum all about IoT basics. Each lesson includes pre-lesson and post-lesson quizzes, written instructions to complete the lesson, a solution, an assignment and more. 

Microsoft Cloud Games

Data engineers, data scientists, and data analysts, this connect the circuit game challenges and expands your data and AI skills as you help a specialized consulting firm, Trey Research, solve the vitally important problem of food waste.

Discover more on Pathways

Pathways is our digital learning platform. It’s a source for all learning and development content, from articles and videos, to entire e-learning courses. It has a lot of content to choose from, including mandatory training and a range of optional learning to help develop your skills and knowledge. It takes a personalised approach to learning, based on your interests, skills and activity, and encourages collaborative learning by using tags, liking and sharing.

We’ve enabled single sign on, which means you won’t need to create a username or password.

Learn via Pathways


Search for more learning opportunities

Scottish Digital Academy

The Scottish Digital Academy is part of the Digital Directorate and is the Centre of Excellence for digital capability across the public and third sectors.

ONS Data Science Campus

The ONS Data Science Campus works at the frontier of data science and AI – building skills and applying tools, methods and practices – to create new understanding and improve decision-making for public good.

One Big Thing

The Government Campus and Central Digital and Data Office, through Civil Service Learning has provided learning and development for all UK civil servants through the One Big Thing portal. 


The Data Lab 

The Scottish Government works with The Data Lab to discover opportunities, connect people and ideas, develop knowledge and expertise and bring game-changing data projects to fruition.


Frequently asked questions

What is Data Month?

To meet our ambitions of being a world-leading government in the use of data and keep pace with technological advances, we need to continue upskilling ourselves and ensure every civil servant is equipped to use data effectively in their roles.

Through the Scottish Digital Academy, the Digital Directorate is working in partnership with the Transformation and People Directorates to develop our offer. This includes a range of webinars, blog articles, courses and programmes for everyone, regardless of job role or grade. A digital mindset and the use of digital approaches such as agile, iterative development, prototyping and use of data that helps us better understand systems and processes, so we can drive continuous improvement and drive transformation. All civil servants are encouraged to attend a development opportunity on data during the month of September, either in person, online or through self-directed learning.

Do I need to participate in Data Month?

No. Participation is not mandatory, but you are encouraged to undertake a day’s worth of data training. We understand this won’t work for everyone, whether due to annual leave, illness or other reasons. For staff who can’t complete professional learning in September, we suggest you undertake the training as soon as you are able to.

Professional learning is continuous throughout the year. You may choose an appropriate time to focus on your learning and development.

Why has data been chosen as a priority?

Effective and innovative use of data is critical to decision-making and the delivery of excellent public services.

There is a real demand for data training among civil servants. A November 2022 report, prepared by the Central Digital and Data Office (CDDO) and Google, concluded that 75% of civil servants are seeking opportunities to deepen skills in this space.

I am already confident in using data. Is this offer still relevant to me?

Yes. The offer will be available for everyone, with a focus on awareness, working, practitioner and expert skill levels.

Is this the same as One Big Thing?

The overarching aim of ‘Data Month’ is for the Scottish Government to take action around a key priority. This year’s priority is improving data skills. We want to empower civil servants to understand the value of using data insights in their day-to-day work and uplift data skills and confidence across the entire Civil Service. The UK Civil Service is also undertaking focussed professional learning, which has been badged as One Big Thing.

There are two key differences in our approach.

  • our data month is aligned to In The Service of Scotland
  • professional learning is not mandatory, though we do encourage you to take part

Where can I find professional learning?

You are encouraged to source your own professional learning to suit your job role and grade. You can do this by searching for blog articles, literature, courses and programmes internally or through a third party. Universities and colleges often provide massive open online courses (MOOCs) or similar learning opportunities at no cost.

But, we also want to guide you to internal resources and support. You will find information on Saltire, as well as:

  • The Scottish Digital Academy
  • Pathways
  • Civil Service Learning


What's available for Data Practitioners and Experts?

Those wishing to learn at a more advanced level, for example a DDaT Professional working in the cloud, you may be interested in the following virtual training days, offered by Microsoft.


Microsoft Azure Virtual Training Day: AI Fundamentals (AI-900)

1st September 2023 : 8.30am – 12pm: Register here>

14th September 2023 : 2pm-5.40pm: Register here>


Microsoft Azure Virtual Training Day: Data Fundamentals (DP-900)

6th-7th September 10am – 1pm : Register here>


Microsoft Azure Virtual Training Day: Linux OSS Database Migration

12th-13th  September 8am- 10am : Register here>

18th-19th September 12pm-2pm: Register here >


Microsoft Azure Virtual Training Day: Migrate and Modernize your data estate and Infrastructure Workloads

14th-15th September 8.30am – 12.10pm: Register here >

20th-21st September 10am-1.40pm: Register here>

See all FAQs

Courses starting soon

Agile Estimation and Planning

Live online
Tuesday 25 June
9:30 AM - 12:00 PM
(2 Hours and 30 Minutes)
This course is for people who want to find out more about Agile estimation and planning

User Story Mapping

Live online
Tuesday 25 June
1:00 AM - 3:30 PM
(2 hours 30 minutes)
This course is for people who want to find out more about user story mapping.

Agile Mindsets

Live online
Wednesday 26 June
10:30 AM - 12:30 PM
( 2 hours)
This course introduces you to what it means to be agile and what mindset you need to work in an agile way.

Digital Scotland Service Standard Awareness

Live online
Wednesday 26 June
1:00 AM - 4:00 PM
(3 hours)
This course is for people who want to know more about the Digital Scotland Service Standard.
See all courses

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