100,000 to be trained in data skills as part of city region deal

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A drive to train 100,000 Scots with data skills over the next decade has been launched by two of Edinburgh’s university.

The University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt University are both involved in the initiative, which also aims to help 1,000 companies.

The Data-Driven Innovation initiative is part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region deal, which is being backed with cash from both the UK and Scottish governments.

Scotland needs about 13,000 additional workers each year with data skills, it has been estimated.

To help address this the two universities will increase data science teaching, and will also support schools and colleges across the area to get the subject into more classrooms.

Professor Charlie Jeffery, senior vice principal at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We are working not just in our universities, but also with schools, colleges and businesses so people have the opportunities to develop data skills across their life-course.

“This could include young people about to enter the workforce, women returning after career breaks, or people looking to reskill in mid-career.”

Prime Minister Theresa May and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon at the signing ceremony for the Edinburgh and South East Scotland city region deal (Jane Barlow/PA)

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the project, which is being backed with £270 million of UK Government funding, will “ensure that the UK leads the world in the technologies of the future and benefits from the economic growth opportunities this brings”.

He added: “By giving 100,000 people, and 1,000 companies, the skills and capability they need to drive innovation through big data and artificial intelligence, this partnership working will help maximise the potential of these sectors – a key goal of the UK Government’s Modern Industrial Strategy.”

Michael Matheson, the Scottish Government’s Infrastructure Secretary, said the £300 million the administration was investing would “help deliver inclusive economic growth across the region”, with the Data Driven Innovation programme “key to this”.

Mr Matheson said: “We are working to ensure Scotland is an internationally recognised vibrant, inclusive, open and outward-looking digital nation.

“I welcome the contribution that Edinburgh and Heriot-Watt Universities are making to ensure the new opportunities and benefits created by City Region Deal investment are spread across the region, providing individuals with the digital skills and aptitudes necessary to succeed while helping industry source the talent they need to grow and flourish.”

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