DDI Program Addresses Lack of Data Skills

The first data qualification for schools was also developed in collaboration with SQA. Photo: Neil Hanna Photography

To address such challenges, the Data-Driven Skills (DDI) Portal, part of DDI at the University of Edinburgh, connects industry, universities, colleges, schools and other organizations to provide pathways to work with data or digital technologies.

It covers basic and key data skills in schools and university data science courses. The Data Skills for Work program, led by The Data Lab, also aims to make it easier for people from a wide variety of backgrounds to gain the knowledge and experience they need for various roles, opening up new job opportunities.

DDI is an important part of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland deal, an investment initiative by the UK and Scottish governments designed to boost productivity and inclusive growth by funding a broad program that includes infrastructure, skills and innovation.

Alison Mackersey, Director of the DDI Skills Gateway, says: “Our program provides people with the opportunity to acquire skills that put them well-positioned for new opportunities in a changing world of work. The goal is to develop data literacy at all levels and respond to skills gaps.”

The effectiveness of the program was recently recognized as a top three finalist for the Digital Leaders 100 Awards for Digital Skills Initiative of the Year out of hundreds of applications from across the UK.

Alison explains that his job isn’t primarily about training high-end data scientists; instead, it is about engaging a wide range of people to improve everyone’s understanding of the data and its use. “We are talking about data citizens, data workers, data scientists and data leaders. We believe that everyone should have a better understanding of what data they produce on a day-to-day basis, as well as their rights and obligations in this regard. It’s also about how you can use data to amplify your voice as a citizen, for example, to influence local decision making,” says Alison.

The DDI Skills Gateway also recognizes that the nature of work is changing and more jobs require people to be confident in using technology. This includes caregivers who work with sensors in nursing homes to collect data on things like occupant movement within the building and environmental air quality.

“Our program is about equality of opportunity and developing new skills for a broader group of students,” adds Alison.

One of the problems the program is trying to address is the gender imbalance and lack of diversity in technology roles. Statistics from Skills Development Scotland show that women hold less than a quarter of technical jobs, and nearly three-quarters of computer science students at the country’s universities are men.

“We’re trying to change that picture,” Alison says. “Equality is built into our program in terms of the materials and case studies we use and our work with third sector organizations.”

His school data literacy education activities are held at Moray House at the University of Edinburgh. Continuing Professional Development (CPD) events are organized for practicing teachers and trainee teachers, and a wide range of curriculum content is being developed. The first data qualification for schools was also developed in collaboration with SQA. The team is also supporting teachers who provide innovative materials related to the regional IoT programme, the first of its kind in Scotland.

Part of the college program also focuses on professional development so that educators can confidently teach data literacy. This covers the four colleges of Fife, Borders, Edinburgh and West Lothian.

Short courses have also been created for certain groups of learners, such as returning women at Fife College in conjunction with Equate Scotland, which has experience working with women in STEM. Another example of third sector involvement is the Donaldson Foundation course at West Lothian College for neurodiverse students.

In terms of higher education, Edinburgh Napier University has received funding to develop and launch its undergraduate degree in data science. It also implements data modules in courses such as business and nursing.

Finally, the Data Skills for Work program offers a number of suggestions. Its Data Skills Portal contains information on relevant education and training programs to improve staff data literacy, including courses that can be accessed free of charge with Data Skills Credits. Such loans provide funding for at-risk and low-wage employees whose roles are changing as a result of automation, as well as those returning to work, allowing them to upgrade and retrain.

That DDI Skills Gateway has already worked with a lot of people on its goal.

audience. To give an idea of ​​its reach, the program has attracted more than 103,000 school students, funded about 200 people through its Loan Grant Scheme, delivered about 3,080 lectures through its ambitious professional development program, and attended by about 3,000 people. skills portal – and more events and partnerships are in the pipeline.

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