Guest Blog: Anna Scott

In this blog Anna Scott, Project Delivery Manager – Data Skills for Work (DDI Skills Gateway) discusses how we don’t all need to be data scientists, but we do all need data skills to prepare for the jobs of the future, now more than ever. That’s where the City Region Deal’s key strand Data-Driven Innovation (DDI) Skills Gateway comes in.

When I joined The Data Lab last November to set up the Data Skills for Work (DSW) programme, I had no idea how timely the development of an upskilling and reskilling programme like this was about to become.

Whilst the increasing use of data science, machine learning and artificial intelligence has been creating uncertainty about the shape of the future jobs market for some time, COVID-19 has hurried the arrival of the ‘future of work’. For many people this has meant a swift introduction to remote working, for others it may mean a threat to their current role as employers increase their use of automation to enhance future resilience.

Data skills for work

The DSW programme is part of the Data Driven Innovation Skills Gateway, funded through the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal. We aim to ensure that routes exist for those already in work, or returning to work, to develop the skills needed to participate in a data-driven economy.

The ambition is to enhance the local labour market with a range of data skills – ensuring that those in occupations like manufacturing production, administration, secretarial and sales, where technology is likely to have a big impact over coming years, and those experiencing barriers to training and employment – are given the opportunity to acquire vital skills, from basic data literacy to advanced data science, and contribute to a pipeline of talent in the region.

We all need data skills

But DSW isn’t about training everyone to become a data scientist – our wider workforce needs a broader set of skills to help them to understand and creatively solve problems using data. Our programme will help data citizens understand how their personal data is used and their rights and responsibilities over this. We will identify learning journeys for data workers who are seeing changes to their roles and who are increasingly being required to work with large quantities are data to inform their work activities. We also want to ensure equality of access for data workers to upskill into data professional roles where possible.

Upskilling and retraining can be part of a post-pandemic recovery

As a first step, The Data Lab has commissioned consultants EKOS to engage with a range of employers across the region to talk about how upskilling or retraining can be used to respond to changes in job roles as the use of technology offers opportunity to makes changes to  business delivery models.

Through the roll out of a new Data Skills Credits scheme, we want to provide funding for at-risk and low paid employees in roles that are likely to be changed by automation, and to those returning to work who are keen to upskill and reskill – signposting to relevant courses provided by the region’s colleges, universities, and other training providers. Funding will also be available for businesses to access leadership training through The Data Lab to help them understand how data might be used to transform their business models, guiding them to the development of a data literate workforce.

If you want to find out more or get in touch, please have a look at our new website www.dataskillsforwork.com

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