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Dear colleagues, what digital training do you need?

Update: Building Digital Capacity: Report on the Training Needs Analysis is now available on Dalhousie University’s website! Read about what we heard here. Thank you to all the public servants who took the survey. Your responses will help shape learning on emerging digital disciplines.

To work in the digital era, public servants need to be equipped with the right digital skills. This is especially true when it comes to working with new ways of designing and delivering services for Canadians.

At CDS, we’re excited to work with colleagues across government to amplify knowledge and skills in areas like digital product development, design, cybersecurity, and data science.

One initiative among many is to identify the priorities for learning across government through a Digital Training Needs Analysis (TNA). We have partnered with Dalhousie University to advance this work, including Professors Jeffrey Roy, Markus Sharaput, and Sandra Toze, and PhD Candidate Lisette Wilson from Dalhousie’s Faculty of Management, who have a combination of expertise including digital technology, governance, learning, data and information.

What’s involved?

If you’re a federal public servant who designs or delivers digital services, we want to hear from you. Here are two activities to look out for:

  1. Over the next few days, we’re reaching out to a random sample of 5,500 public servants in seven organizations. These include the Canada Revenue Agency, Shared Services Canada, Employment and Skills Development Canada, Veterans Affairs Canada, Department of National Defence, Transport Canada, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada. We are asking them to complete a survey to gauge their awareness and use of digital skills and access to existing learning opportunities. This survey will use a randomized sampling method to provide statistically accurate results on training needs across government.

  2. Once the randomized survey has closed, we’ll invite all other federal public servants to participate in an open online survey.

We’re seeking feedback on 30 emerging digital disciplines:

  • Agile development
  • Continuous deployment
  • Automated testing
  • Accessibility audits
  • Assistive technologies
  • Cloud computing
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Open source coding
  • Open source standards
  • Secure coding standards
  • Development operations
  • Cyber security
  • Vulnerability assessments
  • Intrusion detection
  • Identity / access management
  • Recognizing private information
  • Privacy procedures / policies
  • Recognizing privacy threats
  • Addressing privacy breaches
  • Data / social media analytics
  • Business intelligence tools
  • Data visualization
  • Machine learning
  • Sanitizing data
  • Data science
  • Design thinking
  • User research
  • Content design
  • User experience design
  • User interface design

Like all CDS work, we are taking a user-centred approach. The survey itself puts users at the centre – giving public servants a voice in shaping training that meets their needs. It was also designed and tested with users to ensure that it’s accessible and inclusive, meeting Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 standards.

What’s next?

While the survey is underway, the team will be meeting with senior leaders to gather their input on digital training needs in general, as well as completing an environmental scan of existing digital training and best practices in Canada and internationally.

Results from the TNA will be used to inform the design and development of training at the recently announced Digital Academy, and to support other departmental training initiatives across government. A final report of aggregated results will be shared publicly on

Colleagues, please stay tuned for the open survey in the coming weeks. We’d love to hear from you!