Essex to develop short courses to address data skills gap

  • Date

    Fri 17 Dec 21

The University of Essex has secured funding to develop a set of new short courses aimed at improving digital skills and the use of data in organisations.

In collaboration with four partners, the University will develop short courses to address the acute lack of skills in data science and artificial intelligence (AI) in the current workforce.

Essex is one of 22 universities and colleges to have been awarded a total of £2 million of funding from the Office for Students (OfS) to develop short courses in higher education. The programmes are designed to help students develop skills needed by employers and the economy through flexible modes of learning.

The Government has highlighted the urgency of upskilling the workforce in these areas if the UK is to remain at the forefront of the digital revolution. However, working professionals may find it difficult to take a career break to gain these new skills at university.

The University of Essex offer builds on our long-standing reputation for research and education in data science, analytics and AI. The short courses will be developed with input from key partners: East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), Mid and South Essex NHS Foundation Trust (MSE FT), Suffolk County Council and Provide. These partners will be helping the University understand the best approaches to upskilling workers and enabling more organisations in the region to become data-driven and better able to make informed decisions about services, resources and operations.

Professor Maria Fasli, Executive Dean of Essex’s Faculty of Science and Health and project lead, said: “The University of Essex already has a global reputation for its expertise in data science and analytics and a long-standing tradition of delivering a wide range of courses in these areas.

“We are delighted to have secured OfS funding to deliver these new short courses that draw on our expertise to help organisations upskill their workforce in much-needed digital skills which will improve their business practices and deliver effective services.

“In particular, we have identified a pressing need to upskill professionals who are already in business analytics that are transitioning into data science units, but who will benefit from a skills boost to ensure they have the latest technical expertise to make this transition, and to transform their organisations into a data-driven organisations.”

The courses, which will start in October 2022, advance the national priority of ensuring that businesses and the public sector benefit from advanced technologies, improving their effectiveness and embedding data science and AI into their operations to support innovation and improved public services.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the OfS, said: “I am pleased to announce the successful bidders for these important courses. The courses cover a range of subjects at universities and colleges from all parts of the country. They will help people – including those who might already have significant work experience – learn new skills and retrain for a career change. This type of flexibility is important and will help employers fill skills gaps which are essential for their businesses and support future economic growth. At the same time students will be able to benefit from higher education for short periods of time, which will enable them to further their careers, as well as giving them the opportunity to go on and gain a full degree.”

  • The Office for Students is the independent regulator for higher education in England. Its aim is to ensure that every student, whatever their background, has a fulfilling experience of higher education that enriches their lives and careers.