Opinion: What it takes - and what's next - to build data for social impact

The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) South Asia regional office partners with the Capacity Accelerator Network (CAN) in India along with three universities to implement the pathways to developing a workforce of data specialists, as identified in data.org's report, 'Workforce wanted: Data talent for social impact.'


As the past two years have illustrated with stunning clarity, it takes collaboration and capacity — reinforcing data.org’s mission to serve as a platform for partnerships that build and accelerate the field.

Two years ago, data.org released a first-of-its-kind report, “Workforce Wanted: Data Talent for Social Impact.” In this report, we highlight an opportunity that continues to inspire, motivate, and challenge those of us who believe in and are committed to harnessing the power of data for social impact. We have the potential to develop 3.5 million purpose-driven data professionals in low- and middle-income countries between now and 2032. With the proliferation of artificial intelligence, the demand for these data for social impact, or DSI, professionals is greater than ever with no signs of slowing — yet the workforce remains woefully underdeveloped.

We will only meet the urgency of this moment if we accelerate our efforts to foster global cross-sector collaboration and increase purpose-driven data capacity.