Workers of the future will be able to get a degree in data science through a Graduate Apprenticeship in a first for Scotland.
In May, global accounting and business services giant PwC joined forces with the Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews to offer the new work-based learning route to a BSc data science degree.
The fully-funded data science Graduate Apprenticeship is backed by Scottish Government and Skills Development Scotland.
The aim is to help boost technology employment and enhance Scotland’s skills base in response to rapid innovations in industry.
Minister for Further Education, Higher Education and Science Shirley-Anne Somerville said: “We are committed to developing a diverse array of educational pathways so that everyone can fulfil their potential.
“Work-based learning, through the ever-growing range of apprenticeships available in Scotland, has a core role to play in delivering that ambition.
“The data science Graduate Apprenticeship is a direct response to industry need, bringing the skills system, leading universities and employers closer together, helping create the skills and capabilities required to power the Scottish labour market of the future.”
PwC will employ 20 data science Graduate Apprentices this September across the Universities of Edinburgh and St Andrews, with plans to expand the programme to up to 80 places over four years.
David Brown, PwC’s Government leader in Scotland and co-chair of the National Centre for Universities and Business, believes the Graduate Apprenticeships will dispel the myth that entry to the technology sector has to be through a traditional university route.
“Technology is changing the world. Over two thirds of UK CEOs say they’re having difficulty recruiting people with digital skills, a quarter of UK manufacturing businesses see skills shortages as inhibiting output, while a third of financial services undertakings are constrained by a lack of professional staff.
“The data science Graduate Apprenticeship is an example of how new approaches to education can help address this demand by combining world-class teaching and facilities at St Andrews and Edinburgh Universities with work-based learning at PwC.”
The new Graduate Apprenticeship in data science will blend traditional university experience with learning on the job, tailored course content, great job prospects and a salary from day one. Work-based learning and Graduate Apprenticeships are key to supporting that talent pipeline, as Professor Charlie Jeffery, Vice Principal of the University of Edinburgh explained: “Getting the right flow of talent is the key to economic innovation.
“Edinburgh has emerged as a major centre of tech innovation over the last decade and the biggest driving force has been the flow of people with the right data skills into the local economy.
“That focus on talent is at the heart of the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal with its ambition to establish the city as the data capital of Europe. Our partnership with PwC will be an important building block in achieving that ambition.”
Principal and Vice-Chancellor of University of St Andrews, Sally Mapstone, said:
“The University of St Andrews sees our partnership with PwC as innovative, inventive, and informed.
“The high-quality education and superb student experience that St Andrew offers, coupled with a course in which engagement with PwC is integrated, offers a new generation a terrific entry into the world of work.
“This model is one which has great potential for the Scottish higher education sector.”