Scotland is boosting its quest to become the data and tech capital of Europe with two of Edinburgh’s universities launching a scheme to train up to 100,000 Scots in data skills and help 1,000 businesses over the next decade.
The Data-Driven Innovation initiative – worth £661m – is part of the £1.3bn Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal, and is being backed with cash from both the UK and Scottish governments.
With Scotland estimated to need about 13,000 additional workers each year with data skills, Heriot-Watt and Edinburgh universities plan to increase data science teaching for students, and to support schools and colleges across the region to provide digital skills teaching and training.
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.”
Edinburgh’s supercomputing capabilities will also be strengthened with investment in a data analysis facility, which will help 1,000 organisations use data to innovate within their sectors.
Scottish Secretary David Mundell said the initiative would “ensure that the UK leads the world in technologies of the future and benefits from the economic growth opportunities this brings”.
Infrastructure Secretary Michael Matheson added: “The Scottish Government investment in the Edinburgh and South East Scotland City Region Deal will help deliver inclusive economic growth across the region. The Data Driven Innovation programme will be key to this, providing a significant step-change in our productivity.
“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.”
The move comes just days after the Scottish Government confirmed a second round of funding – worth £13.5m – to The Data Lab, the innovation centre which helps industry capitalise on the growing use of data science and artificial intelligence.
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