City Region Deal’s Data Skills drive opens with schools visit to ‘Data Town’

An event for city school pupils took place on Monday 3 June to mark the launch of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal’s Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Skills Gateway.

‘Data Town’ was an interactive workshop bringing together young people from across the city region to learn about life in an increasingly data-driven world.

The event is part of the Data Education for Schools project, led by the University of Edinburgh’s Moray House School of Education, which aims to increase the adoption of data skills in primary and secondary school curriculums. Workshops were also held in Fife and the Borders.

At the event, 120 primary and secondary pupils tackled some of the big issues around data, from how it is generated, shared and used, to ways in which the internet of things will change daily life.

Data Education for Schools is one of the first activities to launch within the DDI Skills Gateway, part of the wider City Region Deal’s inclusive employment and skills drive.

Professor Judy Robertson, academic lead for Data Education for Schools, said: “We know that the world of work is changing. Organisations need workers with data skills. Jobs are evolving and more and more of us will be working alongside new and emerging technologies.

“Through the City Region Deal’s DDI Skills Gateway, learners of all ages across the city region will have the chance to begin a journey of data education.

“We want to widen opportunities for local people to work in tech roles and to be ready for this changing world of work. We are keen to increase the number of women and people with disabilities, and from diverse backgrounds, who are engaging with data.

“We’re starting by working with the region’s school pupils over the next eight years.”

Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson said: “The Scottish Government’s £300m investment to the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal includes a £25m commitment to improving skills within the region. I’m delighted that the DDI Skills Gateway will benefit from close to £7m of that investment and I would like to thank the University of Edinburgh for their role in leading the project.

“Digital skills are fundamental to the life chances of our people and our vision is that data, digital and technology can be used to stimulate inclusive economic growth. In order to achieve this, it’s vital that opportunities are open to all to ensure there is a pipeline of talent ready for the challenge.”

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “It’s great that the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal is able to facilitate events like this which help young people better understand the changing world they live in. There are many business opportunities and jobs being created through the growth in the data economy, that some of these pupils could work with in the future. That is why the UK Government is investing £290 million to support the sector in Edinburgh and South East Scotland.

“The UK Government is working to create opportunities, jobs and long-term growth right across Scotland, and so far have committed more than £1.35 billion in city and growth deals to achieve this.”

The Deal’s DDI Skills Gateway is taking a regional approach to improving data skills across the whole population, covering schools, colleges, universities, workplaces, and citizens.

The Gateway will focus on creating opportunity for all, and help make it easier for a wider range of people to acquire the skills needed to work in tech roles. The City Region Deal represents a £1.3bn partnership between the UK Government, Scottish Government, local authorities in Edinburgh, East Lothian, Fife, Midlothian, Scottish Borders, West Lothian, universities, and colleges over the next 15 years.

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