Learnings From Australia’s Inaugural eResearch Skilled Workforce Summit

The ARDC's inaugural eResearch Skilled Workforce Summit provided peer to peer networking and insights into international best practice on workforce development.
A lecture room full of people talking to one another

The success of the Australian eResearch Skilled Workforce Summit was due to the wonderful opportunity the Summit created for peer to peer networking and insights into international best practice on workforce development.

The Summit was held across two days in July at the University of Sydney and co-convened by the Australian Research Data Commons, Council of Australasian University Directors of Information Technology (CAUDIT) and Universities Australia (UA). It brought together 175 participants involved in developing a digitally skilled workforce to explore how increasing capabilities of researchers and research support professionals can lead to improved use and accessibility to national research infrastructure such as high performance computing, cloud compute, research software and research data management. It was also a chance to discuss how national coordination of community development, training initiatives and policy initiatives could be improved, with ARDC providing a leadership role.  Outcomes of the summit include the need to:

  • identify the return on investments for investing in research support professionals and digital skills for researchers
  • knowledge transfer on workforce development initiatives undertaken at institutional, discipline and national levels
  • form a trainers community of practice group to connect people that engage with and train researchers in digital skills.

Participants came from 23 universities (45%), eResearch service providers (25% ), and National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) capabilities (12%), in addition to representatives from peak bodies, research disciplines and international organisations.

“The Summit was a great opportunity to meet and brainstorm with colleagues from around the country. The level of engagement and energy throughout the sessions spoke to the attendees’ commitment and passion to the Summit’s topics,” Ann Backhaus, Education and Training Manager, Pawsey Supercomputing Centre said.

“I found it very encouraging to know that, while we all face many of the same barriers, we can also all talk collaboratively about ideas for overcoming those shared challenges through nationally repeatable, feasible, scalable frameworks and solutions.”
Highlights from the Summit included presentations showcasing successful institutional approaches to researcher training, including:

  • Research Bazaars around the country
  • Monash University’s Data Fluency initiative
  • the increasing adoption of The Carpentries to teach foundational coding, and data science skills to researchers,

and discipline approaches including

  • EcoEd
  • EMBL-ABR’s hybrid training initiative
  • the geoscience community’s journey with FAIR
  • the Astronomy Data And Computing Services work to support a digitally skilled astronomy workforce.

The outcomes from the Summit will be used to fine-tune the ARDC Skilled Workforce programs. We will also be presenting some of the Summit materials in a webinar format in the coming months. So sign up to the ARDC newsletter to be notified or check out our events page.