With Scottish businesses handling and using more data than ever before, a ground-breaking course aimed at upskilling leaders to use data more effectively, is launching to help fill a growing skills gap among senior managers.
A recent report by The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) found more than 80% of UK businesses now handle digital data, but as many as a third of employees do not feel equipped to use or interpret it.
Alarmingly, the study also found nearly half of all business leaders do not feel prepared to handle or fully understand data, leaving organisations at risk of losing out on valuable insights and growth opportunities.
Targeted at those heading companies from all sectors, the ‘Data Leaders’ programme was piloted last year by The Data Lab, Scotland’s innovation centre for data and AI. The programme aims to build a community of business leaders in Scotland fully equipped with the skills and knowledge to harness data to drive Scotland’s economic success.
Heather Thomson, Head of Skills at The Data Lab, said the course content had been expanded and updated to cope with high demand, which far-outstripped capacity in the course’s first year. The official launch coincides with The Data Lab’s flagship two-day conference, Data Summit, held in Edinburgh this week.
One of the first to enrol on the pilot last year was Jamie Boyd, Growth Programme Manager for Social Bite, an internationally renowned charity supporting people facing homelessness or barriers to employment.
After taking part, Mr Boyd was able to develop his skill set, effectively analyse trends, and gain real value from Social Bite’s own corporate data, which ultimately provided greater insight into the organisation’s plans for future success.
“The course was essential for me to expand my knowledge and vocabulary, gain the confidence to assess projects, and develop a strong data strategy for Social Bite to facilitate future growth. I’m now able to bring new data-based ideas to the Social Bite strategy, and demonstrate the impact they will have.
“Studying alongside different business leaders from various sectors was a great way to learn. The programme reinforced the ready accessibility of data and showed me how analysing it successfully doesn’t need to be done by a data scientist, and how it can be incorporated into any role.”Jamie Boyd, Growth Programme Manager for Social Bite
“At The Data Lab we focus on ensuring Scotland’s workforce has the tools it needs to succeed and grow the economy. Launching the Data Leaders course comes at a time when those running organisations of all sizes and sectors are focused on upskilling to support growth.
Heather Thompson, Head of Skills for The Data Lab
Following the pilot programme in 2021, we have seen a huge rise in demand for data upskilling for leaders and other non-technical roles, which is why we refreshed and relaunched the programme. We have taken the valuable feedback from last year’s cohort to better meet the demands of today’s business leaders.”
The Data Leaders course focuses on the leadership skills needed to design, resource and implement a data strategy that will enable organisational change.
Through a mix of in-person and online sessions, the four-month course is now open for applications.
Open to leaders across all sectors, applications are open until 30 November, with the course running in February 2023. More information can be found here: https://thedatalab.com/professional-development/data-leaders-programme/