Enable Scottish students to lead their career development in data literacy

Data literacy is not something innate within us, but rather a set of skills that anyone can learn if given the right opportunity and environment to do so. Breaking down barriers to data literacy is essential if we are to help improve individual skills and the entire workforce to a standard level.

This is more than possible and can be achieved through training courses that use data to better understand how people learn and how they can be supported. At The Data Lab, our aim is to change lives and make Scotland a more productive economy and create a sustainable society by transforming the way we use data.

One of eight innovation centers in Scotland, our retraining and retraining program Data skills for the job aims to direct students to data training and short courses from external training providers, and our masters program helps prepare students for the professional training that the industry needs.

Adapt to today’s digital environment

Data is all around us and plays an important role in our daily life. It is also reflected in the needs of many employers, who are looking for people with the necessary skills to work in today’s digital environment.

One of the KPIs of the program is knowing how our students’ education has affected their employability. We also want to support our students’ skills enhancement through accessible entry points, to map and track their learning path to deliver the skills they need from multiple providers, capturing their progress along the way. With the help of the skills development platform, Inkpathwe did just that.

We knew we needed it to host our skills framework and to host learning trips so that we could direct people to the right training for them and have a feedback process where people were encouraged to tell us what they had learned.

A unified portal for all students

The platform was activated for our Masters students and Data Skills for Work funded students in September 2021. Now, the booking, attendance and feedback process is created and monitored through a unified portal. We previously used email for all of this administration, which was time consuming, difficult to collect, and our feedback rate was much lower.

Working with Inkpath, we have gamified the process, creating a “fitness tracker for skills” as we call it. It encourages people to take responsibility for their own travel and has a great design and interface.

With our previous processes, we relied on people taking the time to respond to our emails, while now providing feedback is quick, easy, more accessible and far less intimidating. Basically, students can take charge of their own development.

The new system has also given us more visibility on how we can improve and evolve training relative to our skills framework: it has helped us see what additional services we could offer.

Our Masters program, which brings together students from universities across Scotland who are studying data science / engineering and artificial intelligence courses, for an employability and skills enhancement program, events and workshops, has been the test bed for the new platform. About 160 students tried Inkpath and provided extremely positive feedback. We have since implemented it to approximately 300 of our Data Skills for Work-funded students who are seeing the benefits of having a unified portal to view the training opportunities available to them. A further launch of our new funded integrated masters program will follow in October 2022, open to fourth year students undertaking an MSCi, MENg or MInf computer science degree in Scotland with data science modules.

Use technology to improve skills

Our Skills Enhancement Program is funded by the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City Region Deal and has demonstrated an approach to regional skills enhancement at all levels of data literacy, which is not happening elsewhere. Our aim is to launch this model across Scotland.

The Data Lab has developed some truly exceptional partnerships with universities and training providers offering the right kind of courses, and we want students, individuals and employers to identify their data skills upgrade needs to benefit from these links.

Technology is helping us break down barriers and gives our students an entry point to learn how their data is acquired and used, as well as connecting it with the technical skills they need for future work.

By bringing people from all industries together and using technology designed around our needs, we can make sure we apply data science responsibly and build a future where data benefits everyone.


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Enable Scottish students to lead their career development in data literacy

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