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Funding to upskill

Data Skills Credits programme opens career doors through upskilling in data

The Data Skills Credit scheme was launched in November 2020, providing funding to individuals living in Edinburgh and South East Scotland who were looking to develop their data skills. Hear from Esther, a recipient of Data Skills Credits and find out how you can apply.

When Esther Weil – a recent university graduate – first started looking for a job, she quickly became aware of how important data skills are in many sectors and industries. Despite a university degree, she found her data skills to be lacking when she entered the commercial job market:

“I had basic programming skills, but not in the specific programmes and languages, that I [was] mostly seeing” in job advertisements.

Esther’s realisation reflects a growing problem in the Scottish data and technology industries. The Scottish Futures Institute estimates that 175,000 new digital jobs will have been generated in Scotland by 2030, with 37,000 of those based in Edinburgh. Nevertheless, 61% of digital organisations within the Edinburgh and Southeast Scotland regions cite a limited supply of talent and necessary data skills as the biggest challenge they face. With approximately 40% of the UK’s workforce lacking in adequate digital skills, the need to equip workers with good data skills is great.

The Data Skills for Work programme helps adults to upskill and reskill with data to progress their careers

Looking to improve her data skills towards applying for her first job, Esther turned to the Data Skills for Work programme and their Data Skills Credits scheme, which she saw advertised on LinkedIn and through The Data Lab‘s social media channels.

Led by The Data Lab, the Data Skills for Work programme is part of the wider DDI Data Skills Gateway at the University of Edinburgh, funded through the Edinburgh and Southeast Scotland City Region Deal. The programme aims to create a more diverse workforce in the region by helping adults to upskill and reskill with data to progress their careers.

As part of this remit, a Data Skills Credits scheme is available for adults who are unemployed, underemployed or earning below £24,000 yearly. The eligible learners are granted £500 which can be used towards the cost of a wide range of data centric courses, listed on Data Skills for Work’s Skills Portal.

Two women looking at a computer

Esther used the money granted to her through the credits scheme towards an SQL for Data course, run by CodeClan – a digital skills academy based in Edinburgh. SQL is a popular tool for data analysis and one that Esther had seen referenced in lots of job advertisements that she was keen to apply for.

On the course Esther learnt the basics needed to get started with SQL, which not only gave her the opportunity to learn new data skills but reassured her about her foundational programming skills and ability to learn new programmes quickly.

As it happens, Esther was required to use the SQL programme within a few weeks of starting her new job. Buoyed by her success in applying the skills she learnt on the course to her job, Esther plans on further improving her data skills by taking more classes online.

Reflecting on her decision to take the course, Esther highlighted the ever-growing importance of data skills:

As digitalization continues to change the job market severely it is important to stay ahead of the curve. Data science and skills in data [are] an essential part of expertise in the future job market and new programmes and tools have made it so much easier for non-technical people to get involved in these areas.

Speaking about the Data Skills Credits scheme specifically, Esther urged eligible learners to make use of the opportunity and to reach out to The Data Lab team for help, saying:

I can absolutely recommend the programme and encourage everyone to apply for this up-skilling opportunity.  

Esther Weil, Data Skills Credits recipient

The next round of Data Skills Credits funding opens on Monday 2nd August 2021. To apply click here:

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