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Public servants, open data wants you! (We have free training vouchers)

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Education, Government, Policy

Classic title, I know. And maybe one of the most abused slogans in history. But at least, it’s to the point: we’d like you to join in. Open data training vouchers are available for public servants across central and local government. And let me tell you why.

I am relatively new to the open data agenda, and frankly excited about it. Prior to joining the team, like most people, I had a positive but woolly opinion of it. I knew it meant transparency, democracy, potential economic growth, and easier commuting but had very little idea what it meant in practice or how widely public servants are affected by open data.

I also didn’t understand how applicable open data activities are and how easily public servants across government can (and should) get involved with it. Even if I had, I might not have had the right skills to do anything about it.

The scope of open data in the public sector is huge: it affects all sorts of specialisms, from communication to economics, from policy to accounting, ethics and project management. Pretty much anyone that has ever collected, interrogated or used any data, or anyone whose audience cares about data should understand open data and thus, attend this training!

And before you ask: no, there is no such thing as useless data. One of the things about open data is that, as public servants, we might never realise how useful a dataset could be to a business unless we put it out there.

So... what courses are on offer?

The Cabinet Office offers a range of training vouchers (worth a whopping £250) to train public servants to use, publish and disseminate open data. The courses are offered in partnership with the Open Data Institute (the ODI) and the Open Knowledge Foundation (OKFN) and cover everything from general principles and use of the data, technical tools, as well as the practicalities (license and privacy issues).

No prior understanding of data is required for these courses, but decent IT literacy is required (as is generally the case).

For an overview of the courses:

The ODI offers 1 day courses  and 3 day courses as well as a specific procurement training, for procurement professionals.

Open Knowledge Foundation also offers 1 day training vouchers.

These training courses come as part of a Cabinet Office initiative to encourage people across central and local government to seize the agenda of open data. If you’re interested in incentives specific to Local Authorities, it might be worth having a look at this blog ( which sums it all up quite nicely, and better than I would.

For as much as we know, everyone loved this course (of course we would say that, but the fact is, it’s true). And because this blog started with a bit of a cheap slogan, let’s finish with a cheap marketing ploy: a quote!

“A fantastic course in fact, far beyond my expectations. I’m really grateful to have been able to go on it.” [Someone, from a Department]

 What’s next?

Interested? Get in touch with us at and we'll point you in the right direction!

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  1. Comment by exstat posted on

    There is such a thing as useless data. The trouble is (as Lord Lever was supposed to have said of hius company's advertising) it's very difficult to know which the useless dataseta are...

    More seriously, this sounds like an excellent use of money.  My recollection of "Day Zero", when open data hauled itself blinking into the light, was that officials were almost being asked "why don't you know about this stuff?".  The answer of course being that if anyone had suggested such training a few days before Day Zero, it would have been dismissed as a waste of time and money!

    • Replies to exstat>

      Comment by Owen Boswarva posted on

      I prefer to say some datasets have only "niche" applications ... 😉

  2. Comment by rogclhopper posted on

    The free open data training vouchers are no longer available.

    Open data training courses (chargeable) are still being provided by the Open Data Institute and Open Knowledge

    Please contact them directly.


    Lawrence Hopper, Cabinet Office Transparency Team