Public Services > Central Government

ONS seeks help to develop UK’s first data science degree level apprenticeship

Matteo Natalucci Published 04 October 2017

Office for National Statistics is currently seeking views of data science community on its new apprenticeship program

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) is looking to develop the UK's data science skills through the introduction of a new degree level apprenticeship in Data Science.

ONS said it has started hearing views from data science experts and practitioners about the occupation profile, knowledge, skills and behaviours of a data scientist.

The consultation is an opportunity for other employers and data science practitioners to provide feedback on how closely the standard or specification meets their expectations.

Comments will be collected through an  online survey until midday October 13.

The adequacy of data skills is a major issue in Whitehall and is part of the government’s Digital Strategy which set out plans to boost the nation’s digital skills, infrastructure and innovation,

 Civil Service chief executive John Manzoni has said, “We are still short of the key data science skills in government. Such a shortage is not peculiar to this country - research in the US predicts that by 2018 they will be short of 190,000 data scientists.”

And in a recent interview with Government Computing the managing director of the new Data Science Campus Tom Smith discussed the need to increase the government data science skills pipeline

He said “Data scientists are expensive. He or she can go and work pretty much anywhere in any major organisation now and command large salaries. Their skills are quite high end at the moment. So there aren’t enough – demand outstrips supply. So there is a real pipeline issue for government. On the other hand, government, I believe, has the most interesting and important problems to solve.

“So in terms of how we build some of the skills, and the pipeline, then that is something that a lot of organisations are looking at very hard,” Smith continued. “What we’re doing at the Campus is a number of things. Firstly, increasing the number of people coming into the system, which is why we’re running MSc courses and apprenticeships - there is a really interesting thing to explore around vocational training.

“As well as school leavers, we are seeing people who have gone into university, but who may have dropped out after a year because it wasn’t real world enough, or people who are retraining as data scientists and analysts. We’re providing a two-year vocational course where they come with a mixture of training and learning and then real work on projects, helping deliver value to ONS and other organisations."

The Campus had 140 applicants for the first round of the UK Data Analytics apprenticeship, and took on eight in December to work on campus as well as through the Learning Academy, an ONS group that supports training across ONS and government.

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