South African institute launches online data science programmes to address UK skills gap

Applications for EXPLORE Data Science Academy’s first UK data science and data engineering courses are now open for recent UK graduates and professionals seeking a career change

South Africa’s EXPLORE Data Science Academy (EDSA) has launched a selection of online programmes in response to the UK’s growing digital skills gap.

Applications are now open for recent graduates and professionals looking to make a career change. The aim of EDSA’s new venture is to help address the nation’s shortage of qualified data scientists.

According to Burning Glass Technologies’ (BGT) analysis, commissioned by the Royal Society and published last month (4 May), Britain is facing “explosive demand” for data science skills and its education system must rapidly adapt to keep up.

The analysis notes that demand for data scientists and data engineers has risen 231% in the last five years – much faster than job postings in the UK overall, which rose 36% in the same time period.

BGT’s report shows that different regions saw different rates of growth, from 79% in Wales to 269% in the North West, and 563% in Northern Ireland. On top of this, salaries for such roles are around £64,376 on average, up 22% over the same period.

EXPLORE’s new courses, commencing on 12 July, are designed to help fill that gap, with programmes including:

  • The flagship data science course, where students uncover how data can be used to solve difficult problems in any context;
  • Data engineering, which teaches students how to store, move, process and manage the data platforms that power large enterprises.

On the launch of the programmes, EDSA CEO Shaun Dippnall commented: “There is a growing disconnect between the demand for data scientists and supply entering the market. The UK government’s National Data Strategy states that demand for specialist data skills has more than tripled since 2013, while analysis of 9.4m online job adverts predicts that data analysis skills will be the fastest-growing cluster over the next five years. This is a clear indication that we need to be doing more to encourage skills development for graduates.”

Dippnall adds that while previously, participants would likely have had to enrol in a full-time training programme or attend university to earn the data science credentials required to land a job, the rise of online learning means students all over the world have access to quality courses designed and presented by world-class industry specialists.

“One clear advantage of an online course is the ability to study in non-working hours which means a student can work and study at the same time” – Shaun Dippnall, EDSA

“One clear advantage of an online course is the ability to study in non-working hours which means a student can work and study at the same time. Typical courses need about 10 hours of work per week,” added the CEO.

From previous cohorts, EDSA has found that successful data science students on its programmes derive from a range of academic backgrounds beyond mathematics, statistics, and other STEM-based (science, technology, engineering mathematics) subjects – including humanities and the arts.

It’s evident that graduate prospects are promising from more than 70 former programme participants who are now professional data scientists, many of whom worked alongside Thames Water to help develop their Smart Water and Smart Waste platform.

“The Thames Water success story validates our decision to move out of the South African context and take our place on the world stage,” said Dippnall. “The success of our full-time courses has been phenomenal, and we have a 95% placement rate after graduation with excellent starting salaries.

“Modern businesses are awash with data and organisations from a variety of fields are unlocking the power of big data and using this to drive strategy and competitiveness,” he added. “My suggestion to anyone out there interested in a brilliant new career is this: apply now. After all, what have you got to lose?”

Candidates can click here to register before 12 July.

In other news: EDUCATE Ventures partners on launch of Sweden’s first research-led edtech accelerator


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