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SAS expands free data skills training programme with data science pathway, providing crucial upskilling for the digital economy

Global analytics leader SAS, which supplies advanced data analytics to 90 per cent of the top 100 Fortune companies, has today expanded its SAS STEP Programme with the addition of a data science-focused learning pathway, the third of four scheduled pathways. The new module provides the core knowledge and skills required for an entry-level data science role and is aligned to the UK Government’s Digital, Data and Technology capability framework.

The SAS STEP Programme, originally launched in March of this year, is primarily aimed at those seeking employment or facing redundancy.

Candidates taking part in the data science course will receive hands-on, industry-leading training through a tailored software portal, allowing users to practice, apply and embed increasingly vital data and analytical skills. The learning pathway provides a grounding in the key skills of programming, data engineering and manipulation, applied mathematics, statistics, data science innovation, data ethics and data privacy.

Graduates of the programme have already successfully switched careers. James Lancashire, a former youth charity worker whose role was hit by the pandemic, has recently changed jobs with the help of the programme, securing a new role as a Data Management Consultant at data science, AI and machine learning company, Butterfly Data.

“At Butterfly we have achieved success by embracing diversity and have a remarkable team with varied backgrounds and transferable skills. James has many of the great qualities that we look for in an employee; but most importantly, through SAS STEP, he has demonstrated the ability to adapt and learn new skills,” said Wayne Chicken, Director, Butterfly Data.

Data science is an essential skill for businesses today, not just in data-specific roles. Leading consultancy Accenture and The Learning & Work Institute have reported that demand for AI, cloud and robotics skills is soaring – 49% of UK firms surveyed in May said they were affected by a lack of technical skills in AI and data science. Meanwhile, KPMG last month found that the number of staff available to fill IT and Computing job roles was declining at the quickest rate since 2017.

Roderick Crawford, Vice President and Country Manager, SAS UK & Ireland, said: “Today’s launch of the data science pathway is an exciting next step for the programme. Data science professionals are increasingly in-demand, which is something we see and hear first-hand from our partners and customers in industry as they look to take advantage of AI and advanced analytics solutions.

“Our primary goal has always been to address the economic challenges this pandemic has brought about for individuals, so it’s hugely inspiring to hear success stories from people like James who have managed to put their new-found data skills to good use in finding new employment.”

Minister for Apprenticeships and Skills Gillian Keegan said: “It is great to see how the SAS STEP programme is already supporting people to access the highly valued data skills they need to get ahead, helping to tackle skills shortages in vital sectors.  As we recover from the pandemic, it is even more important that everyone has the opportunity to learn the skills they need to progress and employers have access to the high-quality talent pipeline they need for the future.”