Businesses who want to improve their data quality and become better data-informed, but may lack the right skills to execute a successful strategy in response, have received a boost with the launch of a new Data Scientist degree apprenticeship by the University of Nottingham.
apprenticeship, now enrolling ahead of a September 2021 start, will help to
address the UK’s chronic shortage of data talent which by the Government’s own admission is costing
organisations more than £2 billion a year. It will enable employees from a
broad range of industries – including energy, finance, healthcare,
higher education, insurance, pharma, public sector, research and science-based
organisations – to gain a deeper
understanding of the area of data science, giving them the skills to address
the issues raised by large-scale data analysis and facilitate data-driven
Against the backdrop of the government’s National Data
Strategy, which outlines its ambition to establish the UK as a world-leading
data economy and highlights data skills as one of the focus areas to reach its
goal, the new University of Nottingham programme will develop the core
mathematical and computer science skills needed to present, analyse and
understand large data sets. Apprentices, who
will be awarded a Level 6 Data Scientist apprenticeship certificate and a BSc
(Hons) Data Science upon successful completion of the qualification, will use real-life examples from the
workplace to enhance and consolidate their teaching and learning, thus giving
real-time benefits to employers.
“Many businesses are waking up to the fact that data is one of their most valuable assets and data scientists are needed everywhere,” says Assistant Professor and Programme Director Dr Ria Symonds. “Whilst this has the potential to give them a competitive advantage, the issue is that business leaders often struggle to hire data talent. Also, in my experience, employees are often already working with data in their jobs but lack the tools to utilise it effectively. Our degree apprenticeship is designed to give new and existing staff in-depth knowledge of how to take and analyse data: so very simply what they do with it, what models and methods they should run, what the restrictions may be around those, how reliable the data is, and ultimately communicating and presenting it to stakeholders.”
Dr Symonds adds that the Nottingham programme could also “help to attract more diversified talent to organisations, with the degree apprenticeship pathway opening up routes for people who may not previously have considered higher skills”. Successfully recruiting top talent into technical apprenticeship roles was explored in a webinar during National Apprenticeship Week.
degree apprenticeships present a cost-effective approach to workforce
development, and businesses which have a wage bill over £3 million can fund the
programme from their apprenticeship levy. Firms with a wage bill under £3
million can still access this programme for their employees, and may be
eligible for 95% government co-investment. It also means they can invest in the
technical skills of staff who will be driving the innovation abilities of their
organisation for years to come, and attract and retain top talent by giving
employees the opportunity to gain a world-class degree without paying tuition
fees. Furthermore, in the recent Budget, Rishi Sunak announced that incentives
for taking on an apprentice as a new employee will be increased to £3,000 until
September 2021, representing a doubling of the current payment for over-25s.
One business expressing its support for the University of Nottingham programme is the Ford Skill Sprint Team, which says: “The Data Science degree apprenticeship has the potential to provide our highly-talented Ford colleagues with additional skills and knowledge. From our perspective the structure offered allows for the new capabilities gained to be rapidly applied to our business to unlock new insights and ultimately offer better services and products to our customers. We aim to foster a learning environment where individuals are able to apply their new knowledge to our increasingly digitised world and promote business-wide data driven decision making. Further, by retraining our internal team using the apprenticeship levy we provide new opportunities and motivation as the business transforms. Industry-wide, the complexity of data is accelerating and demand for data skills is increasing. Therefore, accessing data literate personnel familiar with the specific challenges is difficult. By training and developing our existing employees at Ford we capitalise on existing domain knowledge and build new data skills targeting Ford’s opportunities.”