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Heather Thomson

The Data Lab calls for organisations to support data science programme

The Data Lab is calling on Scottish organisations looking to realise the benefits of data to become a partner in its Industrial Placement Programme.

Now in its seventh year, the programme matches one of 155 highly motivated MSc students – who bring the latest AI and data science knowledge – with an organisation. Each student works with an organisation for 8-12 weeks on a data project that will directly benefit the company.

In addition to gaining insight into harnessing the power of their data to benefit the wider business, organisations also benefit from continuous support from The Data Lab
throughout the whole process, from conception to project delivery.

The students come from varied and diverse backgrounds with a range of skills and experience, some moving into postgraduate training directly from their undergraduate degrees. Others have a significant number of years in the industry and are looking to enhance their skill set or refocus their career. Their skills developed during and prior to their masters can be applied to a range of sectors including health, social science, engineering, tourism, and more. Each student will be hand-matched with a company based on their skills and the project requirements.  

Heather Thomson, Head of Skills at The Data Lab, said:

We’ve had overwhelmingly positive feedback with 350+ placements taking place since the programme launched in 2015. Just under 200 organisations have participated from across the private, public and third sectors, with many returning to the programme year on year. On average, 25% of placements lead to more permanent or extended employment for the student. We regularly hear that our students have been incredible assets to their teams and have provided immense value to their data projects, going above and beyond what’s expected of them – in some cases, helping companies see the benefit of having someone with data expertise on their staff full-time. Data is a valuable resource for every single company in Scotland. This year we are encouraging organisations outside the technology sector to apply, particularly those who may only just be starting to understand how data can help them.

Stephen Gerrard, Information Management Programme Manager for NatureScot, who participated in the programme in 2020 added:

When we approached The Data Lab to be part of the Industrial Placement Programme, we had a specific problem to address, and felt there had to be something within AI that we could use. At the time AI was still very new to us, but the student that was matched with us came to us with a deeper, more current understanding of AI methods. He came up with a software tool that saved us time, money and solved our problem. It far exceeded our expectations.

A total of 83 businesses from all sectors across Scotland participated during the Summer 2021 term, including 60 SMEs and start-ups who received funding from the Scottish Government to participate through a COVID recovery fund. From this, many students have continued working with the businesses they were partnered with or have now used their experience as a launchpad towards permanent employment.

The Data Lab will launch the summer 2022 Masters Placement Programme with an online informational event on 1st December 2021. Any organisations with a presence in Scotland who are interested in hosting a student next year are invited to attend. More information is available at the link here:

To learn more or sign your business up to be part of The Data Lab’s Industrial Placement Programme, please visit:

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